Review of “9 to 5” by Kev Castle

“9 To 5 The Musical” by The Cast
Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

Based on the 1980 movie of the same name, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and the book by Patricia Resnick. It’s set in the late 1970’s and is a story of friendship and revenge and even a little romance thrown into the mix.

Three female office co-workers, Violet, Judy and Doralee concoct a plan to get even with their sexist, egotistical, hypocritical, lying bigot of a boss, Franklin Hart. While the boss is “busy”, the trio give their workplace a makeover and take control of the company that had always held them back.

Following on from last year’s show “Acorn Antiques”, which was also written by a phenomenal female writer in the late Victoria Wood, this musical puts women to the fore, showing that they can produce brilliant comedy. You often find that many plays and musicals aren’t all about the female roles being as strong as the male roles. This musical turns that accusation on its head.

Doralee, the sexy Southern belle becomes the subject of many of the office rumours based purely on what Hart has said, is played by Rachelle Bragg. I was well impressed with her Southern accent and is a great fun part. I loved her song “Backwoods Barbie”, showing that the fun, blonde character also has a human side.

Violet, the office manager who, while Hart is in charge will never be CEO. Played by Carolyn Smith, and a really powerful performance Carolyn gives with vocals to match the performance. Classy all the way to the finale.

Judy is the newly divorced lady who is an office worker for the first time is played by Beth Yearsley. I’d almost forgotten just what a wonderful voice she has, and when she sung “Get Out And Stay Out”, she showed off that emotional and power packed set of vocal chords she has. A lovely comedy performance as well which also showed the character getting stronger and more self empowered all the way to the finale.

Cheryl Camm also turns in a brilliant comedy performance as Hart’s love smitten secretary, Roz Keith. And what a transformation in her big song “Heart To Hart”.

Playing the sexist, egotistical, hypocritical, lying bigot of a boss, Hart is a brave man indeed, Christopher Collington. The things those women do to him doesn’t come cheap in specialist magazines (so I’m led to believe). His “Here For You” is delivered with such an overly sexist tone, I’m surprised that he isn’t on some register, Hart not Chris that is. A wonderful performance which I imagine is such a great part for any male actor to get his teeth into, as long as you have a strong pain threshold.

The other main male role is Joe, who has a bit of a crush on the older Violet. Played by Rob Holsman who also gets to show off, not only his fine singing voice in the duet with Carolyn of “Let Love Grow”, but also gets to showcase his tap dancing skills.

Talking of which, that tap dancing scene was one of the highlights and featured the four main male dancers, as well as Carolyn. The male dancers, I must say, really threw themselves into the choreography and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Also a tribute to the wonderful choreography of Siobhan Parker. With so many strong female roles in this play, they held their own.

Directed by Rob Corner, who also designed the set, this is another success under his belt. When you think that the live band, directed by Dave Dallard, which by the way gave their usual top class performance, had to work to the projected back drop with Dolly Parton singing and speaking over the live music, timing is going to be of the essence. The actors and the band had to perform around Dolly’s image, which could have gone wrong, but didn’t, smoothly segueing together.

The stage management and crew worked slickly to get the props and sets on and off the stage. Not easy when you see some of the props.

Some of the sound was a bit awry meaning that some of the dialogue was missed but was soon amended and the rest of the show was clear. Well managed by Ben Tennett.

The dynamic duo of light (Dave Martin) and sound (Ben) made the show an easy watch. A director once told me that you only really notice the lights when something goes wrong. That may be true but when it all goes to plan, it’s also worth recognition. A bit like the sound man, you only notice when the sound isn’t right but when it’s good, it also makes all the difference to a show, especially a musical.

Okay so it’s not the strongest of story lines, but who cares? Sometimes you need a bit of fluff with your cheese and this does the job admirably. It’s great fun and the songs are catchy, especially the title track, “9 To 5”. And when the Cast are having fun on stage, the audience can’t help not to.

“9 To 5 The Musical” performed by The Cast is at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton until Saturday 18 March 2017. Oh and make sure that you buy a programme as well!