Heading in to see 9 to 5 the Musical, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The show was based on the incredible 1980 comedy 9 to 5, a film that arguably came way ahead of its time with a story condemning workplace bullying and sexual harassment. Starring three giants of the 80’s in Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, the film went on to become an instant classic and smash hit-success, and I was keen to see how that would translate to the stage in the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp.
It turned out to be magical.
The plot follows the film in its workplace setting, seeing the tables turned on a tyrannical boss in a feat that leaves him literally hanging from the ceiling in his own bondage gear.
Three colleagues reach the end of their tether when dealing with their cruel, egotistical and sexist boss, banding together to concoct a plan that will take him down and let the ladies reclaim their office. With him out of the way, they run the office in his stead but things to start to unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit…
Straight away the show opened with laughter and joy, with Louise Redknapp taking the role of Violet Newstead by the horns after making a full recovery from her fractured wrist. Joining her were Amber Davis (Bring It On, My Favourite Year) as Judy Bernly and Georgina Castle (Mamma Mia!, Dirty Dancing) as Doralee Rhodes whilst Sean Needham (Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia!) portrayed the cruel and sexist Franklin Hart JR.
It showed that the original writer of the 9 to 5 screenplay Patricia Resnick was behind its translation to stage, with the humour and effervescence of the original perfectly maintained throughout the show. The laughs, the poignant moments, the passion – all felt familiar and instilled a sense of nostalgia that I didn’t anticipate.
The cast worked together excellently to showcase their characters extremely different personalities, joining together to take down Franklin Hart JR and end his tyranny over the office. Needham did a fantastic job creating the laugh out loud moments, leaning fully into his role of Hart.
The staging was wonderful, creating a perfect atmosphere with each and every step even more perfectly timed. Transitions between scenes were seamless, allowing you to completely immerse yourself in the story unfolding before you.
It goes without saying that the music of the show, scored by Dolly Parton herself, was astounding. The orchestra synchronised with the actors and the staging flawlessly, and Dolly’s classic songs like the titular 9 to 5 made the show feel instantly familiar and comfortable.
Ultimately, the characters’ individual personalities brought everything together. They made the show interesting and enjoyable from the get go, bringing us along for their incredible journey.
Make sure to catch 9 to 5 the Musical whilst it’s still on that Palace Theatre in Manchester before it leaves on Saturday 21st of September. After Manchester, the tour will continue on to Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Glasgow, Woking and more. Find the full tour information below:
This review was written by Simon Hoang.