King’s Theatre, Glasgow
OVER the past 15 years the empowerment of women who are both intellectual and into their Manolo Blahniks has become something of a cause célèbre in popular culture.
So, from Legally Blonde, which morphed from movie to musical, to Sex and the City, which evolved from TV show to mini-film franchise, tales of females with depth and surface have consistently jumped formats to extend their shelf life. The movie and TV show, 9 to 5, may have seemed well beyond its sell-by date but this new production proves that it was a story worth reviving. After all, long before Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker, Dolly Parton was taking the 80s by storm with this office sitcom. Lucky then that it was Parton who threw herself into writing a stage version which is currently touring the UK.
In the original movie she played Doralee Rhodes, buxom secretary to misogynistic boss, Franklin Hart, Jr, who makes the lives of his staff, particularly Judy Bernly and Violet Newstead (played in the movie by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin respectively), a living hell. In creating this musical, it was shrewd to effectively leave the narrative untouched as the trio exact revenge on their bigoted master, played brilliantly here by former Footballers’ Wives star Ben Richards. The women, Doralee, Judy and Violet represent consummate casting in Amy Lennox, Jackie Clune and Natalie Casey.
If it all sounds a little hen night, then you’d be right. But it’s all the best bits of a hen night – laughter, singing, dancing and dressing up – without all the metaphoric L-plates and inflatable phalluses. This isn’t a lame stringing out of a concept, it’s captivating and delivers a few surprises along the way. It’s just a little too cheesy to become a classic, but for a one-hit blast of entertainment 9 to 5 is a masterstroke.
Grand Opera House, York, Feb 4 to 9, Hull New Theatre, Apr 15 to 20, Leeds Grand, May 27 to June 1.