This musical version of 9 to 5 is a reminder of the times when serous matters such as equal pay, sexual harassment, gender roles, stereotyping based on class, accent, appearance could be treated with warmth and intelligence rather than the ugly ranting of the 21st century.
The story is of three undervalued female office-workers who get their revenge on their vile male boss by (accidentally) taking him hostage and introducing workplace changes such as job sharing, equal pay, promotion based on merit rather than gender, support for employees with health issue etc which bring benefits not to only to staff but the company’s performance.
It is all done with great humour and charm with a lot of the appeal being that is a 1980s feelgood show with a few contemporary USA politics additions (one of which I must admit I did not get) and, of course, Dolly Parton who may not be in the musical but who works as an onscreen narrator and sings that famous song.
The cast is very strong with the long-suffering and overlooked Violet Newstead, played by South Walian actress Caroline Sheen; the blonde country girl who struggles to be taken seriously Doralee Rhodes (the Parton role) played by Georgina Castle and recently dumped newcomer Judy Bernly, taking her first office job after being dumped by her husband Dick. And actress Amber Davies, X Factor finalist from North Wales, does tell her how much she misses Dick.
The trouble with the musical is that the loathsome boss Franklin Hart Jnr is played by Sean Needham and rather than a real villain is actually funny, loveable and possibly the strongest performer in the show. Much of his sexist behaviour is so ridiculous it is hilarious rather than disturbing and you can tell some of his awful statements are just there to get a groan from the audience (which they do). Similarly, the women’s gender battle is rather undermined by some of their own behaviour, particularly the fantasy skit of frustrated employee Roz Keith, played by Lucinda Lawrence, appearing in a basque and fishnets scene as she lusts after Franklin Hart Jnr. She is hilarious throughout and, like Franklin, a bit of a lovable baddie.
Tis isn’t all just an anti-male tirade as some of the office chaps are good guys, including Violet’s love interest Joe, played by Christopher Jordan Marshall.
There are some fun dance numbers and the songs, penned by Dolly Parton, are catchy and several feel like variations of that 9 to 5 song along with some big belters.
The show is light and fun and received a standing ovation.
Until November 2.