9 to 5 The Musical ~ Upstairs at the Gatehouse

9 to 5 The Musical stays at Upstairs at the Gatehouse until Saturday 30 September 2017 – book your tickets here: 9 to 5 Tickets

Star rating: *****

9 to 5 the musical is a show I am extremely familiar with, I always feel that it’s the ultimate feel-good show and extraordinarily empowering to women in a tongue in cheek way! No wonder, really, given that it’s essentially a Dolly Parton show. Indeed 9 to 5 is surely the track that most people associate with Ms Parton.

9 to 5 the musical is based on the popular film and features an uplifting selection of musical theatre numbers, an excellent showcase for the actresses taking the lead roles. This particular production of the show has been produced and directed by Joe Hodges and it is without doubt the best incarnation I have seen. Although the space at the theatre is limited, the best use has been made of it with a set which blends into the background, allowing the performers to lead the action. Chris Whittaker’s choreography is slick, engaging, eye-catching, doesn’t shy away from technical splendour and works brilliantly in the space.

The story revolves around three ladies who work for Consolidate, from 9 to 5! Violet (Pippa Winslow), a widowed single mum who’s ambition is to be CEO of the company, Doralee (Louise Olley), glamorous ‘dolly bird’ who is a ‘Backwoods Barbie’ and wholly misunderstood and Judy (Amanda Coutts), a divorcee-to-be who has never been employed before. Their boss, Mr Hart (Leo Sene) is a chauvinist and egotist of the highest order, he’s dismissive of Violet, rude to Judy and regularly trying it on with Doralee, even though she’s happily married. Add into the mix, Roz (Samantha Giffard) who worships the ground that the boss walks on, and sneaks around to over-hear conversations and snitch on her colleagues. When a Marijuana-induced daydream of Violet’s almost comes to fruition courtesy of rat poison versus sweetener, the three women find themselves in an unbelievable situation, with their boss held hostage and they ship Roz off to France for good measure.

Leo Sene is superbly creepy, snivelling and easy to despise – he makes the character his own and has powerful vocal ability. Amanda Coutts is perfectly cast as Judy, perpetual worrier, quoting trivia when she’s nervous and Coutts has an incredible solo in act two – “Get Out, Stay Out” which she almost spits at her ex husband, what a performance de force! Louise Olley as Doralee puts in the right balance of Dolly Parton (who played Doralee in the film) and her own spin on the character. She’s sweet with an edge and “Backwoods Barbie” is one of the highlights of the show, such a beautiful musical number which plays to Olley’s many strengths. Pippa Winslow as Violet is a match made in musical theatre heaven. Not only does Winslow sing and dance (en pointe, too!) to an outstanding, show-stealing standard – she gives the character substance and appropriately underplays her part at times. The trio of ladies have a believable on-stage chemistry which moves the show along fluidly. Samantha Giffard must also be commended on an excellent comedy performance as Roz, not too over the top but just enough manic going on to cause her to stand out for all of the right reasons.

Miss this show at your peril, watching it on a small-scale will alter your perception of the story, the intricacies are laid bare and a stronger, tighter ensemble you will be hard-pushed to find. It’s a feel-good master-piece and I would gladly watch it over and over again.

Spotlight On… Star of 9 to 5 The Musical, Amanda Coutts

9 to 5 will burst onto the scene at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, London from 30 August to 1 October 2017, book your tickets here: 9 to 5 Tickets

Read all about it here: 9 to 5

Amanda Coutts is playing the role of Judy in the show and she told Break A Leg all about the character and what her personal highlights are. 

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Amanda – Tell me about 9 To 5 and your character.

9 to 5 The Musical is based on the 1980 classic movie 9 to 5 which starred Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. It is set in the late 1970’s and is a hilarious story of friendship and revenge. It follows the same story line of three women (Violet, Judy and Doralee) taking control of their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot boss and how the three women gave their workplace a dream makeover to have some Girl Power in a male dominant world. All the music and lyrics are by Dolly Parton who also created the original theme tune 9 to 5 for the film.

I play the role of Judy Bernly originally played by Jane Fonda in the film. Judy is a recently divorced house wife. She is forced to find work after her husband Dick left her for his 19 year old secretary. She gets a secretarial job working 9 to 5 at Consolidated. She has never worked in an office before and she is a complete, emotional wreck. Eventually she becomes good friends with Violet Newstead and Doralee Rhodes and gets more confident as the show goes on. By the end of the show she turns into a strong, independent, single women.

How familiar were you with the show?

I had never seen the musical before but I have seen the film so many times. I absolutely love Dolly Parton and loved the film. It’s such a fun show and the songs are fabulous.

Describe a typical rehearsal….

A typical rehearsal always starts with a vocal and physical warmup. Then we either have a vocal call or dance call cleaning up harmonies and choreography. Then onto Scene Work. There’s always lots of hard work involved but lots of fun and laughter too. We all get on so well.

What is your favourite musical number in the show? Have you got a favourite scene yet? Or a personal highlight?

I have 2 favourite musical numbers in the show. Dance of Death and Shine Like The Sun. I love Dance of Death because I get to dance a bit and its hilarious. Shine Like The Sun is just such a feel good number to sing as a whole company.

My favourite Scene is when the three women capture Hart. Its so much fun and finally we get our revenge.

My personal highlight has to be getting to sing Get Out and Stay Out when Judy finally realises that she doesn’t need her ex husband anymore and she is doing just fine on her own. Its also the most challenging song to sing and I love a good challenge.

What can the audience expect from the musical?

You can expect a show full of laughs with great songs and a cracking storyline. The music and choreography is amazing and we have a fabulous cast.

Why should everybody buy a ticket to come and see it?

If you love the movie you’ll love the musical. But even if you haven’t seen the film you will still really enjoy it. If you fancy a good night out then you will certainly get one watching 9 to 5.

Its a story of friendship, revenge with a little romance and is completely outrageous. The songs will have you tapping and singing along throughout the show. It’s such a feel good show with a lot of heart and will leave a huge smile on your face. 

Thanks so much, Amanda – a great interview and I’m all the more excited to see the show now!

 

 

An Evening Of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show

An Evening Of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show is touring the UK and you can find more details, here: http://www.aneveningofdirtydancing.com/An_Evening_of_Dirty_Dancing/An_Evening_of_Dirty_Dancing.html

Star Rating: *****

dirty-dancing-2016

What more could you want when the nights are drawing in? A Dirty Dancing extravaganza which has you grinning from ear to ear, singing along and dancing in the aisles might do it! I certainly had tremendous fun at New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham on Thursday 27 October.

This is a tribute show, so in no way affiliated with the Dirty Dancing tour, because it’s a tribute show the atmosphere is instantly more relaxed and as an audience, I felt that we collectively connected with the cast. We were led through the famous hits which were all included in the popular 80’s film, and it was a good job we were encouraged to sing along, because you couldn’t not! Each toe tapping number was performed by the extraordinarily talented vocalists, stunning choreography and accompanied by the smiling faces of the tight-knit cast.

Amanda Coutts and Julian Essex-Spurrier were exceptional as lead vocalists, Coutts’ west-end background shone through as her skills as an actress were as apparent and honed as her other skills, a triple threat if ever I saw one. Spurrier was a good match for the late Swayze, whether deliberate or not and has a velvet tone to his singing voice which lent itself to the musical numbers, perfectly. Victoria Rachel McCabe was a strong member of the cast and her vocals were beautiful, You Don’t Own Me was a particular highlight. Gemma Buckingham is obviously a born dancer, she moved seamlessly through every dance number and has a very engaging style. Emily Rose Taylor showed equal ability and agility as a dancer and was a notable member of the cast. Nicolas Collier gave a solid performance and I enjoyed his vocal talent as much as his dancing. Michael Nelson appears to be another triple threat, I will always remember his take on La Bamba and his natural comedy was an asset, indeed. Stuart Rose towered above the rest in height and was quite a presence on stage, he and Buckingham made a formidable dancing partnership.

I think it’s fair (and cheesy) to say that I certainly had the time of my life, singing along to Cry To Me, Hey Baby and Hungry Eyes among other much loved songs. I’d watch this show again and again, I highly recommend it to anyone, you don’t have to have watched Dirty Dancing to enjoy this.

 

 

Spotlight On… Star of An Evening of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show, Amanda Coutts

Amanda Coutts has been treading the boards in a number of high profile shows, she’s now starring in An Evening Of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show. I caught up with Amanda to find out all about the show and her career to date.

Link to follow for more information and to book tickets: http://www.aneveningofdirtydancing.com/An_Evening_of_Dirty_Dancing/An_Evening_of_Dirty_Dancing.html

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the production and your role in it. 

The show is in its 6th year and is a huge celebration of the multi-award winning soundtrack to Dirty Dancing. We make it all about the music. It’s fully choreographed, energetic and sung live. I get to sing some legendary songs (which I love!) and we like to make it all about the audience by interacting with them and encouraging them to dance and sing along with us. We even get some of them on stage with us! We also sing other classic songs from different eras and genres, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. It’s so much fun and whoever comes to see it will be in for a real treat.

What’s your favourite part of the show? 

I have two. When I get to sing Proud Mary – It really gets the crowd up on their feet dancing and it’s one of my all time favourites songs. And also the finale of the show. It’s the moment the audience have been waiting for and they love it!

Any particular favourite song? 

My favourite song from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack is ‘Yes’. I love 80’s music and it’s a great song for the ladies.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the show?

I hope the audience enjoys the show as much as we do and that they come out singing all the tunes with big smiles on their faces! We have an absolute ball on stage. You can’t go wrong with such incredible music. I hope they walk away feeling nostalgic. I hope they’re impressed by the voices and the dancers in the cast. I hope they take away a fabulous evening and want to come back and do it all over again.

amanda

What led you to become an actress? 

I originally was a dancer. I went to see the musical Cats when I was 7 years old, and I was sold. I loved the costumes, the make-up and choreography. I thought it was amazing and it inspired me to become who I am today.

What have your highlights been so far?

Playing the leading role of Pearl in Starlight Express and playing both the leading roles of Scaramouche and Meat in the Queen musical, We Will Rock You. Both are fantastic shows and I’m so lucky I got to be a part of them. A particular highlight that will stay with me forever was singing on stage next to the amazing Dr Brian May and Roger Taylor during the last ever performance of We Will Rock You in the West End. That was just unreal.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to come and see you and the rest of the cast?

If you’re looking for a fun night out, incredible choreography, fabulous voices, probably the greatest soundtrack ever, full of iconic music and tonnes of nostalgia then this is the show for you. I know you’ll love it as much as we do.

Thank you for your time, Amanda, I can’t wait to see the show!

Please note this production is not affiliated with Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage in the West End or on tour in the UK or worldwide.

An Evening of Dirty Dancing: The Tribute Show continues to tour the UK visiting The Cresset in Peterborough 26 Oct, New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham 27 Oct, Epsom Playhouse 28 Oct, The Baths Hall in Scunthorpe 29 Oct, the Princess Theatrein Torquay 4 November & Princes Hall in Aldershot 9 November. 

All ticket information atwww.aneveningofdirtydancing.com. Follow the show on Twitter at @HeyBabyUkTour.

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