Picture: Simon Turtle

9 to 5 The Musical

Alexandra Theatre


In a world littered with so-called stars, there remain a few true icons who transverse genre’s and generations; for whom there are no peers, only pretenders to the crown.

Dolly Parton is one such living legend. Quite aside from the fact that she has been a movie star, donated over 100 million books to children through her Imagination Library scheme and even has her own DollyWood theme park; she is above all an amazing songwriter and performer and through the songs and lyrics she wrote, her skill and sass runs throughout this production of 9 to5.

Indeed, she bookends the show with video appearances, neatly acting as a narrator to set the scene and tempo, to the delight of the audience.

The show itself starts with the song of the title which erupts into a lively ensemble piece that worked well and showcased the slick set changes that are an excellent and effective part of the show.

Though set in the 1980s the story of three strong women being mistreated by their male chauvinist boss seems particularly pertinent today.

The three leads gave strong solo performances, but lacked a little cohesion when performing as a trio in the early stages, although the split stage rendition of I Just Might worked well and by the time they closed the first half they seemed to have found their rhythm as a unit.

Louise Redknapp grew into the role of Violet Newstead after a slow start, really coming alive in the second half, particularly in a rousing solo number. Georgina Castle channelled Dolly Parton expertly in her depiction of Doralee, with the right mix of sass and style which was particularly potent during the Backwoods Barbie number, while Amber Davies’ gave a nuanced performance, using the scope of her character Judy from timid new starter to a gutsy go-getter to great effect, which some nice physical comedy thrown in.


Louise Redknapp as Violet Newstead

Lucinda Lawrence gave a great turn as Roz, the ever-loyal minion with unrequited love for her loathsome Boss, with one of the best solo pieces of the night. Franklin Hart Jr was played with appropriate sleaziness by Sean Needham; who sailed through the slapstick elements; although for me some of the jokes and set pieces were a little on the clunky side and at odds with the message of the overall piece, even causing a couple of audience members near me to object to themselves.

Regardless the script was as punchy as you would expect from Parton and it was always going to be a balancing act to deal with a serious topics in a light-hearted way and for the most part it manages it; aside from the odd misfiring moment.

The supporting ensemble cast were excellent and the full cast numbers really energised the crowd, with Christopher Jordan Marshall particularly good as Joe.

The show finished as it started with Dolly addressing her adoring audience, though truth be told you felt her presence through the whole show and it is all the better for it. Even via video she has a sparkle that really connects with her audience

For me, this production was one that has a spark and bags of potential but just failed to catch fire. However, I am aware that this is early in the run and that they had lost a performance recently when it was abandoned for technical issues so would be interested to see it later in the run to see if it hits its stride, as it threatened to here.

Christian Clarke


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