9 to 5 The musical originally opened on Broadway in 2009 and lasted less than six months after receiving some less than favourable reviews describing it as vacuous and tacky. Those criticisms can’t be levelled at this first UK tour. With a cast of well known faces with a wealth of West End experience behind them and the pop-country tunes of Dolly Parton, there really was no way to was going to fail. Despite a 45 minute delay in starting and an interval of over half an hour (due to “technical difficulties” – later explained as the fault of the King’s Theatre’s sloping stage which made the set roll all over the floor, requiring the speedy installation of brakes on all the furniture!) the sheer exuberance of the quality cast and the short and punchy storyline more than made up for the delay.
The show isn’t exactly a musical classic, but it’s enthusiasm and heart made for a highly entertaining and engaging evening. Due to the subject matter: three feisty women getting their own back on their sexist, lecherous boss, the women in the audience heavily outweighed the men, but that said, the men who were there appeared to be having just as good a time. There was much whooping and a hollering and a bit of a bop along to the title tune at the end. Dolly herself appears on screen as our helpful narrator – as engaging as she ever was.
The three female leads: Jackie Clune, Amy Lennox and Natalie Casey were all of fine voice and in possession of spot on comic timing, Ben Richards veteran of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Saturday Night Fever didn’t have much to do on the dance front but was, as always, strong voiced and relishing the role of the worse than evil boss who gets his come-uppance at the hands of the three women. Bonnie Langford, in a small but memorable role shows her musical theatre chops as usual, throwing herself whole-heartedly into the part.
With a strong lead cast, high quality supporting performers and a fabulous band this is top quality escapist fun. Highly recommended.