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9 TO 5: The Musical

"Tumble out of bed
And stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawnin' and stretchin' and try to come to life."

— Lyric from "9 To 5"
9 TO 5: The Musical
Cast in 9 TO 5: The Musical
(Photo: Craig Sugden)
9 TO 5: The Musical was released as a movie in 1980 and showed on Broadway as a musical ten years ago when my editor found it a bit dated. But the music of Dolly Parton, who was the first person to head both the country and pop charts, doesn't suffer from dating— as was obvious a couple of years ago when she headlined the famous Glastonbury Festival with her classic songs. The catchy song "9 to 5". which talks about the constraints of the working day. was nominated for a musical Oscar.

The problem for me with the musical is the first act which shows the most blatant sexism and terrible treatment of his female employees by Franklin Hart Jnr (Brian Conley). The device is of course so that we have no choice but to thoroughly approve when Hart is strung up in Sado-Masochism gear in his own home, but it does feel clumsy.

The Dolly Parton lookalike is Doralee Rhodes (Natalie McQueen) a sweet country girl who acts as PA to Mr Hart who lusts and leers after her at every opportunity. Doralee is ostracised by the other women, or girls as they are called here, because they think she is Hart's mistress. Doralee's stand out song is "Backwoods Barbie."

Amber Davies plays Judy Davies, a new recruit and new to the workplace after being left by her husband, the dastardly Dick (Llandyll Gove). Guiding her learning her role is office manager, widowed and single parent, Violet Newstead (Caroline Sheen). Caroline Sheen was called in to play Violet after Louise Rednapp hurt her wrist during rehearsals and isn't expected to be fit until March.

Bonnie Langford is Roz Keith, an older admirer of Franklin Hart Jnr and informer to him about what the other women are up to. The comic Paso Doble between Hart and Langford had Strictly Come Dancing judge, Bruno Tonioli sitting next to us cracking up!

When it becomes obvious that the men are all being paid at least double what the women earn, a feminist revolution is in the air. The three female leads— Violet, Doralee and Judy— bond together and hatch a plan to get Roz out of the way on a training course and plan revenge on Hart. A white suited Violet sings "One of the Boys" as she proves her management potential.

Dolly Parton on tape introduces her musical and on the starry opening night she was there to take a bow at the end. I missed those wonderfully soulful, sad songs like "Jolene" and "The Bargain Store" but they didn't fit the musical agenda. This musical has little to offer any other than the most ardent Dolly Parton fan but there may be enough of those to keep it afloat until the end of August. For the review in Los Angeles LA here, and in New York NY here.

The song list below is an update of that listed in the American productions and on the UK tour which opened in Manchester in 2012.
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • 9 to 5
  • Around Here
  • Here For You
  • Here For You (Reprise)
  • Backwoods Barbie
  • I Just Might
  • Heart to Hart
  • Hey Boss
  • Shine Like the Sun
Act Two
  • Entr'acte
  • One of the Boys
  • 5 to 9
  • Always a Woman
  • Change It
  • Let Love Grow
  • Get Out and Stay Out
  • Finale
  • Bows
  • Exit Music

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9 TO 5: The Musical
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Starring: Caroline Sheen, Natalie McQueen, Amber Davies, Brian Conley, Bonnie Langford, Christopher Jordan Marshall, Lucinda Lawrence
With: Sean Needham, Ashford Campbell, Llandyll Gove, Giles Surridge, Jenny Legg, Rhiane Drummond, Demmileigh Foster, James Royden-Lyley, Jacon Maynard, Sasha Wareham, Alexander Bartles, Ashford Campbell, Natasha Mould
Choreographer: Lisa Stevens
Design: Tom Rogers
Sound Design: Poti Martin
Lighting Design: Howard Hudson
Video Design: Nina Dunn
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes including an interval
Box Office: 0844 871 3000
Booking to 31st August 2019
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 17th February 2019 5pm performance at the Savoy Theatre, Strand, WC2R 0ET (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
Index of reviewed shows still running

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