Bonnie Langford on bringing Dolly Parton's hit musical 9 to 5 to the Bristol Hippodrome
WITH her riot of red curls and precocious manner, Bonnie Langford became Britain's definitive child star in the early Seventies, appearing in a long list of stage and screen roles.
Now, at 48, she's sporting a red basque to match those curls in hit show 9 to 5: The Musical, opening at Bristol Hippodrome on Monday, March 18.
Bonnie stars alongside Natalie Casey, best known as Donna in nine series of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, in this fun new musical comedy, based on the classic movie starring Dolly Parton.
"The show's going really well – it's definitely a crowd pleaser," says musical theatre star Bonnie, remembered by millions as lisping Violet-Elizabeth in the 1974 TV series Just William.
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"It's a silly, fun show and everyone gets up and joins in with the songs at the end.
"Dolly Parton wrote the score and keeps tabs on the show, although we haven't got to meet her, unfortunately."
The show centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss.
They conspire to take control of the company and learn there's nothing they can't do.
Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic, 9 to 5: The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business.
"I play Roz, who is the office supervisor who absolutely loves her job," says Bonnie. "She is also secretly in love with her boss, who nobody else likes. She has secret fantasies (cue the burgundy basque) about him, but unfortunately for her, her passion is completely unrequited."
Feisty, fun and definitely feel-good, the show features Dolly Parton's original hit title song, 9 to 5, which won her an Oscar nomination and four Grammy Award nominations.
The Tony and Grammy nominated score also features 18 original Dolly Parton songs, including numbers from her last two albums, Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun, Get Out and Stay Out and Let Love Grow.
Iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, who appears in the show from her desk in Dollywood, said: "I am so excited that 9 to 5: The Musical is coming to the UK. I'm hoping you have as much fun watching it as I had writing the music for it.
"9 to 5: The Musical is perfect for anyone that's ever wanted to string up their boss, which is almost all of us. So come join the fun! "
Bonnie has been touring the country with the show, but Bristol will be her last stint before she moves on to pastures new.
Bonnie explains, "Yes, I will be performing my final show in Bristol. After that I'm done. I'll have a bit of a rest and then I have something else exciting lined up that I'm not allowed to tell you about!"
Bonnie first came to public attention when, aged just six years old, she won the talent show Opportunity Knocks. This led to early fame in TV series Just William, followed by the 1974 Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury, the 1976 movie Bugsy Malone, and the 1977 film Wombling Free.
During this time, she was also appearing as a regular on children's prime-time show Junior Showtime, along with child stars Lena Zavaroni, Neil Reed and Glynn Poole.
Bonnie made the often difficult transition from child star to adult actress, and in the mid-1980s she became a household name to a new generation of television viewers, starring as the Doctor's assistant Mel in Doctor Who.
"It is an extraordinary institution to be part of," says Bonnie, "particularly at that point when I joined. I was in my early twenties, opposite Colin Baker, and then Sylvester McCoy.
"Now I get to read the books on tape for the CD audio dramas."
In recent years, Bonnie's TV appearances have included Hotel Babylon, Marple, The Catherine Tate Show and Dancing on Ice, while on stage she has performed in numerous hit shows here and in America, most recently playing The Lady of The Lake in the UK Tour of Spamalot.
"I have been doing this job forever," she laughs, "so lots of different generations know me for lots of different things.
"When choosing roles, I have always gone on my instinct and that has served me well so far. I'm also a believer in fate and sometimes opportunities come your way out of the blue.
"I'm very fortunate in that I get to do a job that I like in shows that I like, such as 9 to 5.
"To be honest, to do a job like this, you have to like it. People think it's glamorous, but let me tell you, it ain't!"