9 to 5 the Musical tells the story of three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss.
A 9 to 5 film or production would not be complete without our irrepressible Dolly Parton herself and we are treated to a visual link of our favourite working girl from the off.
As gorgeous as ever, yet with that distinctive voice that we recognise immediately. The connection is established and soon the scene is set, we are in the office, where the men’s clothing doesn’t look much different from today, but our female office workers are all in the de-rigueur of tight pencil skirts and sky-high heels.
Doralee Rhodes (Georgina Castle) plays our ‘ Dolly’ character from the film and because of her vital statistics and her white blonde hair has already been dubbed by fellow work mates and her male boss, as ‘a tart with a heart’ type of person and therefore must be having an affair with the boss.
There is one exception to this office fashion ’uniformity – the new girl- the 21-year-old Judy Bernly (Amber Davies) dressed in softer clothing and who gamely, if a little shyly arrives at the office and reports to the super-efficient and very capable, and always over looked for promotion – Violet Newstead (Louise Redknapp). Judy’s bottom lip begins to quiver slightly as she reveals in a rather loud voice across the office that ‘I miss my Dick.’ She is referring to her erstwhile husband who has just left her for a younger woman.
With an Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-nominated score by Dolly Parton it might have been easy for our Queen of Country to churn out the well-loved songs. She has, however, written new scores for the musical, although the title track remains the same, and this is still the number which has us tapping our feet and clapping our hands.
We soon meet the sexist, conniving boss, Franklin Hart JNR, (Sean Needham) the man with the big desk and a ‘whole lotta lust’ for Doralee who gives him no encouragement whatsoever, which seems to drive his fantasies to fever pitch. His ally and office spy is Roz Keith (Lucinda Lawrence) the office administrator, fiercely protective of her boss, and madly and insanely in love with him. For me Roz steels the show with her dreamlike routine, (choregraphed by Lisa Stevens) where the lovelorn Roz she imagines herself as the object of Franklin’s desire.
First brought to the stage in 2009 the musical disappeared after a few months but now, in the wake of #MeToo, the story about sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace, lack of advancement and pay gap issues carries a new wave of significance and meaning.
Eventually the three women concoct a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, will the women manage to reform their office – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?
Whilst some things have changed in the workplace since 2009, in interview Dolly has commented that if the gender pay gap continues to close as slowly as at present it will be 2059 before pay equality is reached in America. That will be 80 years since the movie! So, for a couple of hours seeing the tables turn on the big bad boss gives us much to cheer about.
With some quick witty remarks and repartee, if a little slap stick in parts there are many hilarious moments and we can take some consolation that not all the striving for women receiving equal is fantasy fulfilment anymore.
We still have a long way to go, does this musical? Well timing is everything and Dolly Parton has bags of that!
So, is this musical worth ‘tumblin out a bed’ for? Although some of the messages are still as relevant today, the script appears a little dated and a little laboured in parts, however the score and uproarious moments carries us through from the 1980’s to entertain us today.★ ★ ★ ★
9 to 5 The Musical is at The Palace Theatre, Manchester from 17-21 September 2019.