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, Louise Olley

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

Louise Olley is playing Doralee in the show, Dolly Parton’s role – Break A Leg caught up with Louise to get the gossip… 

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Louise – tell me about 9 to 5 the musical and your character. 

9 to 5 is a really fun musical, it’s about three ladies who work in an office and they are treated as inferior to their male colleagues – particularly by their boss, Mr Hart. The ladies decide to get their revenge, they kidnap him and while he’s gone they change things for the better. My character is Doralee, she is a real Texan home-girl from very humble roots. Her appearance is very glam and sexy but she has got a massive heart and is in a very happy marriage, so the attention that she gets from the men is unwanted.

How familiar were you with the story?

I didn’t know the story, I hadn’t seen the show on stage or the film. I knew the character of Doralee as I’m a massive Dolly Parton fan and she was Dolly Parton’s character in the film so I knew that I would love to play her at some point. I have since done a lot of research, seen the film and watched a lot of footage from various productions of the show.

Do you think that the space will lend itself well to the production?

I think it’s going to be perfect, I’ve seen a few shows at the venue before and it’s a very intimate space which I think this piece needs really. The storyline is very intimate and the characters are very real so it will be nice to be close enough to the audience to bring them into the story with us.

Now you’re in the throes of rehearsals and you’ve got to know the story so well, is there another character that you would love to play if the chance occurred?

That’s a good questions! There’s a character called Margaret in the show and she’s a bit of a drunk, she’s a really fun character or Roz is another character I’d love to have a go at, she’s totally in love with Mr Hart while the other girls all hate him! She’s a great character and the actor who’s playing her, Samantha Giffard is really getting her teeth into that character, she’s going to steal the show!

What led you into a performing career?

I was three when I started performing and I loved it, I was about seven when I decided it was what I wanted to do for a career. I was just doing school plays and realised that was where I was happiest and confident. I fell in love with it around that kind of time and went to University before I went to drama school because I wanted to have a good theatrical knowledge and I did a very theory based course, I also wanted to make sure it was definitely what I wanted to do because it’s a very difficult industry. I decided that I definitely still wanted to do it and my passion for it increased, so I went to drama school and here I am!

Are there any particular roles that you would like to play? 

I’d love to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, that’s a big one for me. I also really love classical musicals, last year I did Allegro at the Southwark Playhouse so if that went any further I would love to do that again.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket and come along to see 9 to 5?

You’re not going to regret it, it’s such good fun, the dancers in the show are phenomenal and they’re non-stop I don’t know how they’re doing it. We’ve got a ten-strong cast that feels like a twenty-strong cast and we’re doing massive numbers. You’ll go away with a huge smile on your face!

Thanks so much, Louise – I am so excited to see you as Doralee! 

 

 

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