9 to 5 | Theatre Review

Photo credit: Craig Sugden

By Indigo Jones

★ ★ ★ ★

9 to 5 is a musical which sees the mistreatment of three women who work in an office due to their gender. As a result, they decide to undo the wrongs they have faced by kidnapping their boss. This show encompasses female empowerment and puts a comedic spin on a political message, and through doing so raises awareness of gender inequality within the workplace whilst simultaneously making the audience roar with laughter.

At the beginning of the show, we were greeted by Dolly Parton herself (a video version of herself, that is), where she welcomed everyone to the show whilst also acting as the narrator. She opened the show by singing the musicals namesake and her most famous song, 9 to 5, which immediately set the upbeat tone of the show. I must say I was slightly disappointed by the lack of clarity during songs; whether this was a result of the mics being too quiet in comparison to the band, opening night issues or poor pronunciation, I was crestfallen by the fact that I was unable to hear the lyrics and as someone who has not seen the show before I struggled to understand the plot at first.

We are then introduced to the three main leads, firstly Violet Newstead played by Caroline Sheen. Violet at first comes across as a hard-working b*tch (to put it nicely) and looks down at the new members of staff. As we then get to know her character, we realise she is misunderstood and acts hard to further herself in her career, just to be castaway due to the fact that she is not a man. She finally lets go and begins to enjoy herself with other female staff members and becomes a very likeable and relatable character. Caroline Sheen performed exquisitely, making her large performance numbers look effortless in the process.

Personally, Georgina Castle as Doralee Rhodes stole the show for me, as her characterisation, almost a young Dolly Parton, not only added a country element to the show but the comedic twist that was needed. I’m unsure if her aim was to impersonate the singer, although her characteristics were spot on and perfectly represented a “dumb blonde”. While Castle successfully managed to perpetuate the stereotype, she also owned it in a way that would empower the women in the audience.

Last but not least, Amber Davies who played the third female lead, Judy. Known for winning Love Island and her brand deals, Amber, a theatre trained actress, demonstrated that she belonged on the stage alongside her co-actors. Her rendition of Get Out and Stay Out was powerful and emotional and the videos online do not do her voice justice. This challenging song not only proved her vocal ability but also proved that she is more than just a pretty TV personality. For those who believed she was in the show because of her Love Island fame, you would be incorrect as she matched the choreography of the fellow dancers and stood out from the ensemble.

The second act came around, and I was worried that after the fast-paced numbers of the first act, the energy would dip. I could not be further from wrong! The second act, if anything was higher paced, and with the change of look of the office, we saw a change in energy of the whole show. The ensemble numbers were tighter, the vocals were fuller and, as a whole, the cast looked like they enjoyed themselves more in the second half. Moreover, the sounds issues from the first act seemed to vanish, as everything became clear vocally.

I would recommend the show to women of any age who want to feel empowered, or perhaps men who just enjoy seeing a comedic musical. As a whole, the cast and ensembles worked perfectly together and it was hard not to laugh at the often crude jokes. You will inevitably fail to get the songs to leave your head as I too was seen leaving the Millennium Centre singing “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen. Pour myself a cup of ambition, and yawn and stretch and try to come to life”. And let’s just say the show did, in fact, bring me to life!