There is no denying 9 to 5 is a full-blown feminist fantasy but it would be a mistake to undermine the show as simply couple of hours of tiresome, feminist polemic for it was most certainly none of the above. Developed from the 1980 film of the same name, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, the musical follows the story of three ballsey secretaries (Jackie Clune, Natalie Casey, Amy Lennox) who seek revenge on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot of a boss, Frankyln Hart (Ben Richards). Revenge for his sexist remarks and pervy behaviour quickly escalates into a hilarious farce involving rope harnesses, rat poison and marijuana.
The blazing colour, from the collage of pop culture framing the stage and the countless costume changes, captured the fashion of the late 70s and the glamour and glitz of the show itself. The particularly glittery dream-sequence in Act 1 deserves a nod for being utterly over the top, utterly pink and utterly fabulous.
The scene changes were slick and clean; new rooms were built up from a couple of decorated flats wheeled in by the ensemble themselves with many an exciting flourish of jazz hands and casual box-stepping. Indeed, there was no shortage of jazz hands or outrageous leaps and spins which were executed with outstanding energy by the ensemble. There was no shortage of reprieves of the title song also – but no one was complaining and the cast managed to coax the audience to their feet for the final encore.
The majority of songs were foot-bouncy and undeniably catchy. The big ensemble numbers, performing with outrageous gusto and enjoyment, stood out against the smaller scale numbers – the duet between Violet (Clune) and Joe (Mark Willshire), ‘Let Love Grow’, although tender, was not memorably romantic and lacked a certain sentimental chemistry between the two characters making their side-plot romance more of a necessity for tying-up-loose-ends than a long awaited union. Willshire’s singing voice was notably weaker when compared to the power-house vocal performances from Clune, Casey, Lennox and Richards.
The three leading ladies balanced each other nicely; bouncing comfortably off their peers during their quick-witted dialogues. The smaller characters (or, I should say, the ‘little men’) strongly added to the overall entertainment of the show; no one can forget the office’s alcoholic frump (Lisa Bridge) nor Roz (Anita Louise Combe), Mr Hart’s ‘Hart’-broken assistant, whose solo song ‘Heart to Hart’ was gigglingly fantastic. Richard gave a diverse performance (with many costume changes) as Mr Hart and his accompanying facial expressions, during ‘Heart to Hart’, added significantly to the hilarity of the scene. Despite his villainous role you could not help but eagerly await his next appearance. Sadly, the second act did not use him as well as it could have and his boisterous presences was missed.
Overall the production was fantastic however the decision to have a projection of Dolly Parton hanging, god-like, over the stage at during the beginning and end was an unnecessary distraction from the performance on stage. The giant head’s final plug for the audience to advertise the show to everyone they meet was patronising and, frankly, irritating. Minus the Dolly idol this may have been a perfect musical.
This was not a play in which subtly played a major role and rightly so – the overt cheesiness of the production kept me grinning the whole way though. A warmly recommended good night out for any student who feels they deserve a treat after finishing a long month of exams.
Eve Wersocki Morris
9 to 5 The Musical runs at Theatre Royal, Nottingham until Saturday 15th June 2013.
For ticket information go to: http://www.trch.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=19334