Touring production seen at the Bristol Hippodrome.
With music and lyrics from actual living goddess Dolly Parton, it’s impossible not to love 9 to 5. Those who remember the original movie from the 80s will recall it’s a funny, heart-warming tale of three women who have enough of their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigoted boss, Franklin Hart, and take matters into their own hands. After kidnapping him and threatening to expose his dodgy financial dealings, the women eventually win the battle of basic rights for women, such as equal pay, day care provision, and flexible working. All things that should be automatically granted in any workplace but which, sadly, a lot of us are still fighting for today.
This touring production, directed by Jeff Calhoun, is fast-paced, energetic, slick, and a total joy from start to finish. I particularly loved the seamless set changes; each cast member knows what they’re doing and when to do it, and the result makes it all look effortless. The energy on stage is palpable and the pace never drops. Costumes and wigs are all sublime and true to the 80s setting. I really enjoyed the women’s ‘power suits’ which became brighter and bolder as they gained confidence in their own abilities.
Louise Redknapp stars as Violet Newstead, but really this is a team effort from a group of talented women; Vivian Panka making her UK musical debut as Judy, Stephanie Chandos as Doralee (Parton’s original character), and Julia J Nagle as Roz all deliver outstanding performances as well. Not forgetting Dolly, who appears on screen to introduce us to the characters and sing the titular song. These ladies really do drive the show and I love to see it. Sean Needham is outstanding as Franklin Hart. He had the whole audience wiping away tears of laughter every time he came on stage, especially when suspended from the rafters dressed in a PVC S&M outfit. The original movie was funny, but this production of 9 to 5 elevates it to a whole new level and of course, it’s made even more enjoyable when shared with an appreciative live audience.