Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
For a good few years now, well-known and much-loved films such as Ghost, Legally Blonde and Sister Act have found themselves on the stage. Some do better than others.
Right now Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 is travelling the UK, making its mark in its first tour of the country.
9 to 5 The Musical is based on the 1980’s film of the same name. The story is set in a male-dominated office and follows three secretaries, Violet (Jackie Clune) the defiant gutsy one; Doralee (Amy Lennox) the misunderstood not-so-dumb blonde; and Judy (Natalie Casey) the anxious ex-wife. They group together to take down their sexist, egotistical boss Franklyn Hart (Ben Richards)
9 to 5 is packed full of laughs and some really catchy tunes, penned by Dolly herself. Backwoods Barbie is a great song, performed by Amy Lennox who plays Dolly Parton’s character Doralee. Amy has a fantastic country voice, has that Southern girl drawl down to a tee and is cute to boot. Jackie Clune as Violet has a beautiful rich tone to her voice, and she in particular owned the stage with an air of confidence.
Natalie Casey, however, starts out well and gets a good few laughs, but by the end of the show her gurning, mugging, shrill laughter and snorting become annoying. It’s overkill, and if she can tone it down a little, it will make the show that bit more enjoyable. However, her voice has a lovely soft tone, and although she is not as vocally strong as the others, she still holds her own.
Ben Richards is brilliantly funny and easy to hate as sexist Franklyn Hart, and his voice isn’t half-bad either. Getting his kit off at the end of the show isn’t necessary, but it does get the desired reaction from the audience.
The set works well and scene changes are fast and slick. Costumes are fabulous, bright and colourful, and there are an impressive number of costume changes. One jaw-dropping costume is the sexy lingerie worn by Anita Louise Combe (Roz) as she sings and performs a sexy dance. It’s cringeworthy, but it is meant to be. Anita has fab comic timing and is hilarious as Franklyn’s desperately-devoted assistant.
A good touch to this musical is the projection of Dolly Parton onto a big clock hanging over the stage. She introduces the show, narrates a little, and winds it up at the end, but most exciting is her singing along with the cast.
In an interesting addition, the clock also plays host to end-of-show credits. It’s different to other stage musicals, but this cinematic device works well.
9 to 5 is fun, energetic and entertaining but sadly lacks that special something. Maybe it just isn’t as polished as some of its other film-to-musical counterparts, but hopefully (over time) the cast and crew can perfect what they’ve got, as this is a show that really does translate well to the stage.