Clocking in on the majestic New Wimbledon Theatre stage, 9 to 5 the Musical arrived just at a perfect time. With a short run from the 19th to the 23rd of October, be sure to take the opportunity to catch the show before it heads on to pastures new (yes, it’s on tour).
9 to 5 the Musical is the story of three women beset by a sexist, egotistical male boss. They hatch a plan to kidnap the unsavoury boss and turn the tables on him. Predictably, anarchy ensues as events unravel and plans collapse. Can these ladies reform the office, or will it all go downhill when the company CEO pays a visit?
The show has a multi-award nominated score by Dolly Parton, featuring the number one song 9 to 5 that Parton wrote for the original 1980 film of the same name. And while Dolly Parton does not appear on stage, she is with us in spirit and video form as the show’s narrator. Rounding up the old team, the show’s book is written by Patricia Resnick, the original screenwriter of 9 to 5.
Louise Redknapp, former band member of Eternal and more recently runner-up on Strictly Come Dancing, returns as Violet, in a role that is very much faithful to the film’s character. Much the same can be said for the plot and spirit of the movie in general. This comedy is full of witty comments, outlandish behaviour, a little innuendo, and a spot of slapstick.
Alongside Redknapp are Stephanie Chandos, as Doralee, and Vivian Panka, who made her UK debut as Judy. The trio made good use of the gags peppered throughout the storyline as they rattle through the tunes, new and old, penned by the singer-songwriter herself.
Before the show is over, you’ll see the boss, played by Sean Needham, tied up tight in his own fetish gear and left hanging from the ceiling while the newly-in-charge ladies commandeer the business to run it in a more egalitarian manner.
It’s all good fun, but with a message that has remained relevant since before the film was aired and is still going strong today – the fight for equality. In 9 to 5 the Musical, the methods chosen are farcical, but the underlying message remains – equality for men and women. When the film aired, this was an aspirational but simple wish. Now, 40+ years later, we are seeing more and more women joining the upper echelons of corporate management and entering fields of employment traditionally seen as male-orientated.
The message is somewhat countered by moments of glancing at bottoms and comments about cleavage. If that is too much to think about, don’t worry. Just sit back, relax and prepare to sing along to 9 to 5. The show is good fun to soak up and laugh along to.
Casting for the show is by Victoria Roe, choreography by Lisa Stevens. Set design is Tom Rogers, with lighting by Howard Hudson. Music supervision by Mark Crossland. The show is directed by Jeff Calhoun, director of the 2010/2011 US tour.
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