The film ‘9 to 5’ from 1980 was about three working women in a 1980s American office as they struggle with the pressures of career, and a sleazy, sex-offender boss. Starring Jane Fonda; Lily Tomlin and the queen of everything Dolly Parton, it was a runaway hit. Being a multi-talented kind of gal, our Dolly turned the premise into a Broadway musical which transferred to the West End this year. It is currently on a tour of the UK and Ireland. This week it is playing in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin. Having been a deranged fan (I mean loyal appreciator) of Ms Parton for decades, I naturally bought a ticket.
What to say. Well the script of the musical is the same as the film. Set in 1980, Judy Bernly (Fonda in the film, Love Island’s Amber Davies in the musical) is returning to the workplace after her husband Dick, runs off with his 19 year old secretary. Office manager Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin in the film, Laura Tyrer in the musical) is the long serving office manager who is constantly being overlooked for promotion in favour of mediocre men. Doralee Rhodes (Dolly, and played by Georgina Castle here) is the PA being sexually harassed by company CEO Franklin Hart. They concoct a scheme to exact vengeance on their revolting boss and to achieve equality in the workplace, through an utterly ridiculous, but highly entertaining plot
I loved it. Well of course I did. As the show opened a face appeared in the alarm clock on the huge sparkling ‘9 to 5’ sign suspended from the stage. Like a dove from above Dolly Parton explained in a pre-recorded segment what was about to happen.
She wrote the music for show, so naturally that was brilliant – and being a true musician, Parton made sure that there was no pre-recorded music – there was a live band playing all the instruments in the pit in front of the stage.
The cast were excellent – with Doralee (playing the Dolly role) being the crowd-pleaser – I particularly enjoyed her version of the Dolly classic ‘Backwoods Barbie’. Sam Needham (playing Hart) was hilarious as a low-down, good for nothing, incompetent lothario. Laura Tyrer as Violet was oustanding. The role was meant to be played by former popstar Louise Redknapp, whose name appears in all the promo and posters but whose absence was left unexplained last night. There was a paper sign stuck to the door upon entry to the theatre, to say that Tyrer would be performing in her place. Luckily Tyrer is a far more accomplished singer, actor, dancer and performer than Redknapp (who had possessed the charisma of a glass of flat, warm Diet Coke when I saw her playing Sally Bowles opposite the amazing Will Young in ‘Cabaret’ at the same venue some years earlier)). Now while I am not a fan of Redknapp, she is undoubtedly the biggest name in the cast. Where was she? Is she unreliable? Was she sick? Is she uncooperative? Was she not contracted to perform in Ireland? Has she been sacked? A proper explanation is owed. Not that it diminished the show or Tyrer’s performance which was excellent. It’s just odd and unprofessional.
The set was fast changing and extravagant. And Dolly’s re-appearance the end on-screen to sing the title song brought the house down.
‘9 to 5’ is a funny, enjoyable, light hearted piece of musical theatre that runs until Saturday. It’s a barrel of laughs.