Review – 9 to 5 The Musical

June 5, 2013 | By More

✭✭✭✩✩  Fun – at right price

Edinburgh Playhouse: Tue 4 – Sat 8 June 2013
Review by Paul Johnson

It’s not so much nine to five, as ten to one at the Playhouse this week, where the men in the audience are easily outnumbered by that ratio.

Which fact might make it easy to call Dolly Parton’s musical a fun night out for the girls – except these aren’t girls. These are women; women who have had enough of the put-downs, the sexism, the bullying, the innuendoes and the downright sexual harassment.

The touring Cast of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical. Production photograph.

Yes sirree 9 to 5 – based on the 1980 movie of the same name – is a not too-exaggerated reminder that when it comes to women in the workplace, not everything about the good old days was necessarily good.

Those days are not so old, either. It’s set in 1979 – recent enough for many in the audience to recognise the outrageous behaviour of company boss, Franklyn J Hart (Ben Richards).

Does that all seem a bit serious for what’s just a light and fluffy little show? Well, it depends how it’s presented and how you want to look at it. Yet it’s all there in the story and in the characters  of the trio of women who lead the retaliation against Hart: hardworking widow Violet (Jackie Clune), nervous divorcee Judy (Natalie Casey) and bubbly Doralee (Amy Lennox).

First to say, this is a fun and entertaining touring production that cracks along at quite a pace. And it’s a clever touch to light up the super-slick set and prop changes by the ever-busy ensemble, to make them part of the entertainment.

But considering the theme is about women breaking free and releasing their personalities, it is frustrating to see so many of the parts being played in such a two-dimensional caricatured manner. Who needs silly walks to understand ‘timid’ or ‘uptight’?

And although billed as a musical, it has just the dozen songs – leaving a lot of space for the script. Thankfully it is a crisp and entertaining one, but there are musical plays with more songs in them. There is unexplored potential, not brought out in this production which seems to have been directed towards party night out.

The song and dance performance of the night

Even then it takes until the fifth number, Hart to Heart deep into the first half, to really engage. Anita Louise Combe – depping for Bonnie Langford who is currently on a break from the tour – produces the best song and dance performance of the night when her straight-laced character Roz unleashes her fantasies.

Violet (Jackie Clune), Doralee (Amy Lennox and Judy (Natalie Casey). Production photo.

Of the leads, Jackie Clune has a wonderful tone and quality to her voice and brings the sort of depth and believability to her portrayal of the no-nonsense Violet that perhaps is lacking in some of the other characters.

Any actress taking on the part of Doralee is going to have to please the Dolly fans and Amy Lennox is both suitably bouncy and gives her songs enough of the Parton-twang to guarantee that she sure will make y’all mighty happy.

Perhaps because she’s so familiar from her role as Donna in BBC TV’s Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps (she’s the dark-haired one) Natalie Casey is the surprise of the evening – and not just because of her splits. While Judy is one of the more caricatured portrayals, Casey seizes her opportunities with her top quality vocal performances. Get Out And Stay Out is delivered with conviction and emotion and is the vocal highlight of the show.

And while, as the song says, Ben Richards’ character is a Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot, it is clear from the final bows that the audience are happy to forgive the TV regular.

Richards clearly has a lot of fun with the part – even if he does spend most of the Act II hanging around. His big number, Here For You, allows him to show something of the song and dance skills that make him one of the country’s top music theatre talents.

If you’re looking for a couple of hours of fun entertainment it’s definitely worth clocking-in for 9 To 5. Whether it’s worth playing full whack rather depends on the value you place in getting close to the stars.

Running time 2 hrs 20 mins.
Tickets from www.atgtickets.com
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA. Tue 8pm, Wed-Sat, 7.30pm (Wed/Sat mats 2.30pm), run ends 8 June.

Read Æ’s review of the tour when it was in Edinburgh in the Autumn: Review – 9 to 5 The Musical

Click through the images for Piano/Vocal/Guitar songbook of the musical, CD and MP3 downloads of the Original Cast Recording, and DVD of the 1980 movie.

Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical on Tour

4 – 8 June Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
10 – 15 June Nottingham
Theatre Royal
0115 989 5555 Book online
17 – 22 June Belfast
Grand Opera House
02890 241919 Book online
24 – 29 June Aberdeen
His Majesty’s Theatre
01224 641122 Book online
8 – 13 July Canterbury
The Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
15 – 20 July Newcastle
Theatre Royal
08448 11 21 21 Book online
22 – 27 July Cardiff
Wales Millennium Centre
029 2063 6464 Book online
30 July – 3 August Liverpool
Empire
08448 713 017 Book online
5 – 10 August Brighton
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
13 – 17 August Glasgow
King’s Theatre
0844 871 7648 Book online
20 – 24 August Manchester
Opera House
0844 871 3018 Book online

ENDS

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