Theatre review: Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 in WokingBy Rebecca Younger
November 06, 2012
IT'S been 32 years since Dolly Parton starred alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the Oscar-nominated comedy 9 To 5, which catapulted her to fame along with her catchy rendition of the film's them tune.
Despite advances in employment rights since the 1980 flick was made, the inequalities of business life continue and that is perhaps why the stage version is such a hit with audiences today.
This week 9 To 5: The Musical, written by Dolly Parton, clocked into the New Victoria Theatre in Woking as part of its tour of the UK.
Like the film, the musical centres on three office workers; Violet Newstead, Judy Bernley and Doralee Rose, who turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss, Franklin Hart, by conspiring to take control of the company.
Despite being the lead male role, former The Bill star Ben Richards' performance as Franklin is somewhat overshadowed by life long starlet and local Surrey actress Bonnie Langford, who steals the show as his love sick assistant, Roz Keith.
She soon has audiences rolling with laughter (and gawping in wonder) as she strips to her underwear and tangoes across the stage while verbalising her unrequited love for her boss.
There are also small - but equally comical - offerings from Lori Haley Fox as alcoholic typist Margaret and Mark Whilshire as Violet's love interest, Joe.
But there's no doubt the best performances come from the three leading ladies played by Jackie Clune, Natalie Cassey and Amy Lennox. Each brings one or more of the different components required by a leading lady to the show.
Leading West End actress Clune, who plays office manager Violet, brings gusto and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps star Casey, who plays office newcomer Judy, has impeccable comic timing.
Meanwhile Lennox, who recently starred as Elle Woods in the UK tour of Legally Blonde, has perfectly mastered the Southern American twang of ditsy secretary Doralee (played by Parton in the film) and belts out the numbers in a way that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
Not content with purely writing the music and lyrics for the show, Parton herself also appears throughout the show to set the scene and introduce characters via a pre-recorded projection embedded into a clock forming part of the stage set.
From the outset this feels like an unnecessary crowd-pleaser and does little to move the narrative along. The 18 songs she wrote for the show and the charisma of the lively cast are more than plenty to keep audiences entertained.
9 to 5: The Musical is at New Victoria Theatre in Woking until Saturday (November 10). For tickets call 0844 871 7645.