Based on the 1980 film, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 the Musical has come charging into Sunderland Empire Theatre stacked full of talent and cheer with a good healthy dose of feminism.
The year is 1978, the workforce is dominated by male managers, CEOs and Directors sharing sexist jokes, lusting after employees and viewing women as simply ‘the help.’
Enter our three female protagonists Judy played by Amber Davies, Violet played by Laura Tyrer and Doralee played in this particular performance by Stephanie Chandos.
All three have their own problems, Judy is coping with a divorce, a cheating Dick (I’ve always wanted to write that) and starting a new life in the city, Violet is raising a teenage son and trying endlessly to work her way up the career ladder and Doralee is wondering why those in the office don’t like her whilst trying to cope with the never-ending advances of all three’s boss, Franklin Hart Jr played by Sean Needham.
Those expecting all of Dolly’s classic songs may be disappointed, but in the place of ‘Islands in the Stream’ and ‘Jolene’ are fantastic, emotive and hilarious numbers such as ‘Backwards Barbie’, ‘One of the Boys’ and ‘The Dance o’ Death’ that are seeping of Dolly’s talent and humour in all the right places. Whilst the story itself was written by Patricia Resnick, the music and lyrics were all put together by the icon herself creating a perfect combination Dolly sass, mixed with a light-hearted storyline referencing some of the more deeper feminist issues of the 70s and 80s.
An absolute favourite number has to be when Roz (Lucinda Lawrence) the boss’ personal assistant, that has a particular fondness for submitting patronising and unnecessary memos to staff (we all know the type) fantasises about her boss and their potential sexual escapades. Think Strictly Come Dancing crossed with French and Saunders and you’ve got the gist. The result was truly excellent and I don’t think there was a single member of the audience that didn’t let out a chuckle.
One number that was missing from the show was ‘Get out and Stay out’ a firm favourite with fans that is performed before the final 9-5 closing tune. However as a complete newbie to the musical, this wasn’t noticeable and the show flowed perfectly. The musical numbers that were sang and performed were done with effortless talent and harmonies that give you those good ol’ goosebump moments
The set changes are also worth a mention, in seconds the creative cast and stage operatives have you transported from a city centre high rise to a hospital ward, suburban home and rooftop and all accompanied by the note-perfect sounds of the orchestra.
Throw in a gimp mask, rat poison, an office romance and of course a sprinkling of Dolly magic from the lady herself and you’ll find a fantastic night out for you and your friends.
9 to 5 The Musical is on at Sunderland Empire until November 9, so get your tickets fast! Tickets can be purchased from https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/9-to-5-the-musical/sunderland-empire/