Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams
The glitz and glamour of ‘Dollywood’ arrived in Wolverhampton this week in the form of touring musical ‘9 to 5’ based on the film starring Dolly Parton and with music and lyrics written by the lady herself. Our second visit to see this fun, fast and furious show, yet it did not fail to have us exiting the theatre with a huge smile on our faces and a real hankering for a pink glittery Stetson (maybe just for Helen…).
‘9 to 5’ tells the story of three working girls from very different backgrounds, they need a job but they don’t need the hassles that come from their chauvinistic, sexist boss Franklyn J Hart. However, a hazy ‘day-dream’ during an alcohol and smoke-fuelled girls night in comes to fruition, and with outlandish consequences. There are some toe tapping numbers, including the title song ‘9 to 5’, ‘Shine Like the Sun’ and ‘Change It’. There’s also a surprise visit from Dolly herself, making it a show that we truly believe has something for everyone.
The three leading ladies are all exceptional, each one stands out on in their own right for playing believable characters who couldn’t differ more from the other. Jackie Clune is Violet, the head-strong widow who is desperate for promotion and who’s dream is to become the first female CEO. Clune has a beautifully rich vocal tone, ably singing all of the numbers to a high standard. ‘Let Love Grow’ (duet with suitor Joe in act two) was a memorable moment. Natalie Casey has put her trademark ‘quirkiness’ on the role of Judy and displayed her usual precise comic timing together with a marvellous vocal range. Casey is an actress of immense talent and her career successes to date reflect her versatility. It must be a difficult task to take on the role of Doralee which is cherished by Dolly’s fans (it’s the role that Dolly played in the film) but we couldn’t fault Amy Lennox, she epitomised Parton while simultaneously making the character her own. ‘Backwoods Barbie’ was her solo number and Lennox’s singing voice lent itself to the country and western genre, superbly. This girl is one to watch out for, and we both felt that we could picture her in many other leading roles, we hope our prophecy comes true!
Ben Richards is an outstanding ‘Mr Nasty’ aka the boss, Franklyn J Hart, the character is despised by most but adored by Roz Keith, office memo enthusiast and ‘odd-ball’ who’s desire is that Hart feels the same way as she does about him. Bonnie Langford played the role of Roz when we watched this for the first time, so these were big shoes to fill – but Anita Louise Combe should be commended for a hilarious performance.
The cast for this production is fairly minimal in comparison to other shows that we have seen, but there’s a real sense that this is a team effort and opportunities for each performer to provide a glimpse of what they’re capable of. A thoroughly talented ensemble, indeed and praise must go to Lori Hayley Fox as Margaret, a cameo role that has stayed with us since the first time around and that we eagerly anticipated watching again – “atta girl!”.
The show stays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 18th May and you can book tickets via their website http://www.grandtheatre.info. Tour dates can be accessed at http://www.9to5themusical.co.uk.