Dolly Parton's '9 to 5 The Musical' opens at the Bristol Hippodrome
Does anyone actually work 9 to 5 any more? Not many of us I'd guess. Dolly Parton's musical 9 to 5, which opened at the Hippodrome last night, harks back to an era long gone. In 1979 there were no smart phones and no computers, just clunky typewriters, old boys clubs and institutional sexual discrimination? Well a lot has changed at the workplace, but this tale of sexual inequality, discrimination and revenge it seems, is still as relevant now, as it was 30 years ago.
Violet, Judy and Doralee may not be household names like 'Thelma and Louise,' but the same themes of strong women, revenge and sexual liberation run deep in this re-working, by writer Patricia Resnick, of Dolly Parton's classic 1980 film. The hard working and clever Violet overlooked for promotion by her sexist boss, shy Judy left floundering when her husband runs off with his much younger secretary, and buxom Texan Doralee, the victim of office jealousy and the rumour mill.
It's both entertaining and uncomfortable watching the excellent Mark Moraghan relishing his role as odious CEO Franklyn J Hart. He throws his weight round the office, humiliating his female staff and promoting his golfing buddies. He is a male Cruella de Vil - nasty, sexist and duplicitous, but when he pushes our 'girls' too far he literally doesn't stand a chance.
The hits come one after another as the plot twists and thickens, and the women take their revenge. All under the watchful eye of Dolly herself, who makes a very special 'guest ' appearance.
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Bonnie Langford is unrecognisable at first as loyal and lusty secretary Roz Keith. Her side splitting routine in the first half, when her desire for her loathsome boss drifts off into fantasy, is one of the set highlights of the show.
The three central characters are all excellent. Amy Lennox, as Doralee, steps into the shoes of Dolly herself, and manages to be sexy, sassy and heartbreaking, especially during her 'Backwoods Barbie' solo.
With the audience on their feet and, at one point dancing in the aisle, 9-5 is a rousing, anthem-led night out for everyone who, in Dolly Parton's words, "have ever wanted to string up their boss!"
9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL at the Bristol Hippodrome
Monday 18th – Saturday 23rd March