Tag Archives: Patricia Resnick

REVIEW: 9 to 5 – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

9 to 5, the 2008 musical based on the hit 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, would seem on the surface to be a strange choice for a West End revival and UK tour in 2019. In the era of #MeToo, it appears that too often that even the most questionable content can be given a free pass if it marks itself as a period piece, is given a glossy coating, has some jolly songs and is marketed as supposedly raising issues of gender equality and sexual politics, even if its done in the dodgiest of fashions. Thankfully, for the most part, director Jeff Calhoun has managed to address the most unpalatable Carry On-like antics of previous productions.

In a nutshell it’s the story of three office workers: Doralee (Georgina Castle), Judy (Amber Davies) and Violet (Louise Redknapp) who unite to turn the tables on their monstrous boss (Sean Needham), tying him up in his own bondage gear and running the office where they work under their own rules.

It is a show of two unequal halves, both literally and figuratively, the first running at one hour ten minutes and packed full of action, the second at a short 45 minutes is actually padded out with some unnecessary songs then rushes to a conclusion that neatly wraps up the action. The entire show is stylistically a bit unimaginative, it takes the stereotypical eye-poppingly colourful 80s look but doesn’t do too much with it, there are a few key set-pieces that are wheeled on and off multiple times. It is all perfectly pleasant but no more than that.

Both Davies and Castle are supremely talented, Davies’ rendition of the Defying Gravity-like Get Out and Stay Out is a show-stopper as is Castle’s Backwoods Barbie and to his great credit, Sean Needham manages to keep tyrannical, misogynistic, panto villain boss Franklin Hart Jnr. entirely likeable. Less successful, though is Redknapp, who, while competent in the pivotal role, is a little lacklustre in her energy level and her voice suffers in comparison to her co-stars. It also needs to be said that the shrillness of the dialogue and the uneven American accents mean that a lot of the jokes fail to land as the audience can’t actually hear them clearly.

While on the surface it may aim to be a rallying cry for working women everywhere, it still retains a few too many mores of 70s and 80s sitcoms. While director Calhoun has managed to negotiate a more palatable path through the material, it might be time for either a bit more of a refresh of the book or a female director. It is interesting to note that the most well rounded, nuanced character is the seemingly ditzy blonde. All that said, if you take it entirely at surface level then it is a bit of fluffy, escapist, crowd-pleasing fun, with a talented and committed cast, and the overwhelmingly female audience seem to adore it, needing no encouragement to get on their feet to sing and dance along with the encore.

Runs until 12 October 2019 | Image: Simon Turtle

Originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: 9 to 5 The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

 

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.