“A comedy filled joyous spectacular “
**** 4 Stars
Legendary Country singer Dolly Parton’s most successful transition to the big screen was the 1980 smash hit “9 to 5” that wowed audiences and critics alike. Parton would return to 9 to 5 in 2008 with a brand new musical adaptation with Parton herself on music and lyrics and book by Patricia Resnick.
The musical would achieve considerable success on Broadway and London’s west end as well as numerous UK Tours. The show has now be released for am-dram performances and long running capital based company Edinburgh Music Theatre present there take on the musical and deliver a comedy filled joyous spectacular.
Telling the story of three women Violet Newstead (a divine performance from the Gifted Denise Trenor), Judy Bernly (a comedic and vocally perfect Sarah Louise Donnelly) and Doralee Rhodes (an inspired and honey soaked country vocalised turn of excellence from Monica Fowler) thrown together as employees of Consolidated Industries office in New York City of 1979. The 70’s a decade where sexism ran rampant and women stood in the shadow of power crazed men which is summed in the character of Franklin Hart Jr a sexist pig through and through (the ever wonderful Peter Tomassi turning in a finely created performance). The girls get their chance to make their mark following a crazy kidnap plan they discover Hart Jr is on the fiddle from the company and heroes of the story set out to take Hart down and Make the Consolidated Industries sky scraper a better place to work for all and prove that a woman’s place is anywhere she dam well wants it to be from the home to the boardroom and everywhere in-between.
Director Niall King has delivered a true ensemble focused production with great pace and sparkle, and while it could be polished more in technical elements its gives a rip roaring evening of musical theatre fun. Performances are uniformly excellent with special mention to all the leads especially Monica Fowler as Doralee who gives her role a Dolly Parton tribute but also makes the role all her own. Rosie Sugrue gives a tour de force turn as Roz Keith she is a joy to watch. Speaking of charming, Andrew Hally makes the most of his turn as Joe, delivering a innocence and love filled charm to the role. The principals are joined by a stellar ensemble cast that bring the plethora of characters to life with great success. Chanet Tuner-Ross Choreography is a triumph at every level with every musical style present from Bob Fosse to body popping woven into the show. The production features a strong Dance ensemble with special mention to Robbie Noble and Sean Vannet who both draw the eye with their dedicated sharpness in their moves. Vocally the company smash the score thanks to excellent musical direction from Libby Grabtree who mines the score for all its worth, added to that her 8 strong piece pit band ensures you have a top quality evening of musical theatre joy to watch and listen too.
Production wise, it’s more of a mixed bag, Charlie Johnson-Walker set design could have been so much more and the inclusion of dozens of moving trucks that don’t always hit their mark does tire especially into the second act. That said George Cort’s well thought out and evocative lighting design excels in bringing the show to life. Dave Wah’s Sound design does it job but there were a few sound issues, including mic’s not going off in time so we could albeit very briefly hear back stage, those sound cues will tighten that’s for sure. Lauren McAnna’s costume design is nothing short of excellent and she truly manages to bring the 1970’s visually to life on stage and cleverly ensures its 70’s new York and not London we see on stage a tremendous achievement indeed.
EMT’s 9 to 5 really does work hard to make a living and they deliver a worthy evening of musical theatre fun and showcases why the company are celebrating forty years in theatre making. So why not grab yourself a ticket and head to the church hill for a rip roaring time!
9 to 5 The Musical, Church Hill Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 8th April, for tickets go to: Edinburgh Music Theatre – Bringing musical theatre to Scotland’s capital city (edinburghtheatre.co.uk)