9 to 5 The Musical

Apr 5 2023 | By More

★★★☆☆    Pacy fun

Church Hill Theatre: Tues 4 – Sat 8 Apr 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is considerable enjoyment to be had in Edinburgh Music Theatre’s production of 9 to 5 the Musical at the Church Hill.

The staging is ambitious and colourful, while the performances are very good indeed – even if these two elements do not always complement each other perfectly.

A scene from EMT’s 9 to 5 The Musical. Pic: Alan Potter.

The 2009 musical is based on the 1980 film, with songs by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick. Some surprisingly trenchant criticisms of workplace sexism are buried within a homage to screwball comedy that doesn’t get any less silly on repeated viewings.

The story of three put-upon office workers (Violet, Judy and Doralee) and the way they deal with their revolting boss is hampered by some of the more ludicrous set-pieces, and by production numbers that concentrate on spectacle at the expense of character. All of this can make some of the show decidedly lop-sided.

maximum of gusto

Director Niall King and creative team, therefore, are to be commended for attacking it with the maximum of gusto. Some of more way-out episodes, such as the three central characters’ marijuana-fuelled revenge fantasies, benefit greatly from the energy of the large ensemble and the impressive choreography of Chanel Turner-Ross.

A scene from EMT’s 9 to 5 The Musical. Pic: Alan Potter.

The production also scores highly with a series of committed and skilful central performances. Denise Treanor gives Violet, constantly passed over for promotion, a realism and tunefulness. Sarah-Louise Donnelly, as recently divorced Judy, combines comedy and pathos very well. Monica Fowler, as Parton stand-in Doralee, is sympathetic and sparky.

Peter Tomassi has obvious fun playing the ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ Franklin Hart, always having a twinkle in his eye but keeping sight of the fact that he is an unforgivable slimeball.

winsome charm

Rosie Sugrue has a bravura cameo as Hart’s devoted assistant Roz, while Andrew Hally’s accountant Joe has a winsome charm.

There are a parade of smaller roles that are largely undifferentiated in the script, but the cast here strive mightily to give them personality, notably Chris Cotter overcoming an unforgiving fright-wig as Judy’s ex-husband Dick.

A scene from EMT’s 9 to 5 The Musical. Pic: Alan Potter.

The solo and duet numbers – notably Treanor and Hally’s Let Love Grow, and Donnelly’s excellent Get Out And Stay Out – are the most effective. Not only are they more character-driven, they also are helped by a band under MD Libby Crabtree that is strong on the more reflective songs.

The big production numbers (in particular the title song) do not always come off so well, as the band are noticeably less tight at maximum tempo and volume. This, combined with mic-switching delays and problems with sound balance, leads to issues with audibility of the lyrics, and indeed some of the dialogue. This is exacerbated by the occasional exaggerated accent which can inhibit understanding.

Unfortunately, the conclusions of some big, heartfelt vocal numbers (and the occasional conversation) are also upstaged by some of the constant switching of scenery; this, despite Herculean efforts, does not always go smoothly as intended.

Most such teething troubles can easily be excused by the production’s ambition, which is one of the things that make it such great fun.

Running time: Two hours and 30 minutes (including one interval).
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 April 2023
Evenings at 7.30 pm; Sat at 2.30 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.
EMT website: https://edinburghtheatre.co.uk.
Facebook: @edinburghmusictheatre.
Twitter: @EdMusicTheatre.

The cast of EMT’s 9 to 5 The Musical. Pic: Alan Potter.


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