Brett Herriot Review

9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

**** 4 Stars

The magic of live theatre returns ”

545 days since the doors closed at Edinburgh’s Playhouse theatre, the lights have come back on, the audience, masked, settled into their seats and the curtain went up once again and the magic of live theatre was in the air as the Playhouse rolled out the big guns with a transfer of the west end hit 9 to 5 from London’s Savoy Theatre

It’s hard to believe the motion Picture of “9 to 5” was released in cinemas in 1980 Over 40 years ago, the story of three women leading the charge for female empowerment in the business world of the high rises of New York gave Dolly Parton perhaps her most recognisable hit.

Telling the story of Violet Newstead , Louise Redknapp, who has truly matured in the role and gives a full force leading lady turn of a strong willed woman with aspirations of being CEO, Judy Bernly (Vivian Parks in a vocally powerful turn) an office newbie who facing up to life without her husband and whom must get on the work ladder and Doralee Rhodes (Stephanie Chandos who channels Dolly Parton wonderfully well but also imbues the character with her own style) who everyone thinks is a tart with a heart but does in fact have the brains to match.

The three women are stuck in a male dominated world, and repressed with a boss, Franklin Hart Jnr (a snide and excellently judge performance from Sean Needham) who is nothing more than a sexist pig. Having put rat poison in the boss’s coffee which he survives its sets off a chain of comedy events that see’s the woman finally find there feet in the business world and each other and change their world for the better.

This 2021 production retains all the charm of the west end run and the previous 2019 UK tour, with Director Jeff Calhoun retaining the shows new direction, this is musical theatre for adults, with sexual innuendo, bare buttocks and S and M references aplenty and it’s a comedy musical joie de  vivre. 

Dolly Parton’s Music and Lyrics and Patricia Resnick’s book is better served by this retooling one which works so well as rather than trying to please family audience’s it harnesses the power of the original film and explores the empowerment of women in business so well.

Lisa Stevens Choreography is sharp with nods to Bob Fosse scattered throughout added to Dean McDermott’s 8-piece band all the ingredients are mixed together for a superb night of musical fun. Special mention must also go to Tom Rogers inventive set design which really transport the show to New York and its office setting’s brilliantly and even allows Dolly herself to act as Narrator (sorry folks she is on pre tape not live in the theatre) which adds extra charm. With excellent lighting design from Howard Hudson and Ben Harrison’s Sound design you have all the trappings of a west end calibre show which relights the Playhouse stage once more.

As theatres around the country continue to reopen under the new restrictions its clear the Playhouse are pulling out all the stops to put on the very best programme and the fact they have chosen there gala reopening to be 9 to 5 is shrewd and a clear audience pleaser. 

9 to 5 remains an enduring hit as both a film and musical because of its heart and putting women at the centre of the story something which even now 40 years letter remains as relevant as ever. So, tumble out of bed and pour yourself a cup of ambition and head to the Playhouse for a real Musical treat!

Dolly Parton Presents, 9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 18th September, UK tour continues for tickets go to: www.atgtickets.com/shows/9-to-5-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/

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