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Review: 9 To 5 at Newcastle Theatre Royal

The stage version of 9 to 5 draws Dolly Parton fans to Newcastle's Theatre Royal as David Whetstone found out

***
Simon Annand The Company of 9 to 5 - The Musical
The Company of 9 to 5 - The Musical

Dolly Parton starred in the film 9 To 5 which came out in 1980. It shows what happens when women office workers turn the tables on their domineering sexist pig of a boss.

Since we are led to believe that sexist pigs of bosses were not in short supply in the offices of the 1970s, you can see why the film was a hit. It was a revenge fantasy.

This stage version didn’t appear until 2008, by which time it was a period piece evoking a time when – apparently – everyone dressed in really tasteless clothes.

Dolly wrote the music for the show. She also appears in it from the neck up – shame! – on a clockface, offering a pre-recorded commentary on the unfolding action below.

Simon Annand Jackie Clune, Amy Lennox and Natalie Casey in 9 to 5 - The Musical
Jackie Clune, Amy Lennox and Natalie Casey in 9 to 5 - The Musical
 

As in the film, Judy (Natalie Casey), having been ditched by her horrible husband in favour of a younger woman, seeks office work.

It’s a lions’ den she wanders into, presided over by the bullying, preening Mr Hart (Ben Richards) and populated by women who have their own rivalries and survival techniques.

The chief lioness, Violet (Jackie Clune), is clearly capable but has hit that glass ceiling. Doralee – the Dolly role in the film and here played by Amy Lennox – uses her conspicuous physical attributes to keep the Hart beast at bay.

It’s a noisy, raucous show, as you would expect with numbers such as Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot, and it looks for the most part like a horrible accident in a fancy dress shop.

Mr Hart is literally suspended and humiliated, Violet breaks through that glass, Judy gets the hang of the typewriter and – whaddayaknow? – there’s still a man at the top of the pile, Hart’s boss Mr Tinsworthy.

I left the theatre with a mild headache but thankful that we now live in more enlightened times. All thanks to Dolly.

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