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What a way to make a living!

Review by David Bithell

Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton

Book by Patricia Resnick

Directed by Jeff Calhoun

9 to 5 the Musical tells the story of three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, will the women manage to reform their office - or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?

You can’t break free from the presence of Dolly Parton in this musical version of the 1980 movie in which she co-starred. Not only has she written all the songs but her name dominates the publicity and her pre-recorded image throughout comes and goes during the production which thrusts itself into the final chorus.

Adapted from the film and also book by Patricia Resnick, gives the idea of three female office workers working together to hatch a plot and get their revenge on their chauvinistic boss.

A lot of the gags are of a certain genre, Judy, the newcomer, played by the wonderful Vivian Panka, pining for the husband who has deserted her, loudly reveals: “I still miss Dick.” The boss’s most loyal ally takes off her specs, lets down her hair and shows herself to be a lavishly corseted raver. The boss himself Franklin Hart Jnr played by the comical Sean Needham, comes across as a pantomime villain through-out, working the crowd, who, when strung up in his S&M bedroom, announces: “I’m going nuts with my nuts in a truss.”

The leading role of Violet Newstead, the secretary who becomes the ringleader of the revolt against her boss, is played by the wonderful Claire Sweeney. She has that rare quality, charisma, and her acting and singing appear effortless. She commands the stage by appearing to do nothing at all, when in fact she is always totally ‘in role’ and subtly listening and reacting to others. She is eminently watchable throughout. She is blessed with an attractive singing voice and well nigh perfect diction, not just singing the songs but making the most of what she is given.

The songs are full of contradiction. Doralee played by Stephanie Chandos, the character who was originally played by Dolly Parton, complains in Backwoods Barbie that she is seen as a glamour puss while hardly dressing down. The show itself is polished, efficient and smooth running throughout, fast paced scene changes, but it still argues that equal pay, flexible hours and in-house daycare are not only vital targets but also make for better business.

While the musical is a typical revenge fantasy, it is stylishly put across in Jeff Calhoun’s production.

I thorough enjoyed the 9 to 5 the Musical, and I urge you to go and see it before it ends tomorrow night.

9 to 5 the Musical, is at the Regent Theatre, Hanley, until Saturday 26th February.

Or by contacting the box office on 0844 871 7615

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