Theatre Review: 9 to 5 The Musical

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With a back catalogue of more than 3,000 songs it was inevitable a musical featuring the work of Dolly Parton would be created.

Nine to Five, currently showing at Milton Keynes Theatre, is a musical version of the comedy film released in 1980.

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The story focuses on the lives of three women, one of whom bears an uncanny resemblance to Dolly Parton, who all work for a Texan company run by a misogynistic boss.

The real dolly, now aged 67, acts as a grandmotherly narrator to the show via video clips shown to the audience on a screen which is lowered on to the stage.

As someone who was unaware of the storyline of the film I was surprised by some of the more surreal plot twist towards the middle of the show when the three main female characters kidnap their boss.

Some of the scenes which depict their fantasies of how they would like to humiliate their boss while they smoke cannabis are probably not suitable for a younger audience.

But what saves this musical from falling into the average, easy-to-forget, category is the humour and frivolity in some of the performances.

In particular, Bonnie Langford provides plenty of laughs as she strips down to her suspenders during a rendition of Heart to Hart - a ‘come and get’ me plea to her boss Franklyn J Hart.

Former Hollyoaks actress Natalie Casey also provided some comedy in her role as the ditzy divorcee Judy who was struggling to come to terms with working for the first time.

But the stand-out performer was Jackie Clune as Violet Newstead, the bright female employee who kept being overlooked for promotion.

Clune displayed perfect comedy timing but also provided a heart for the show which was well demonstrated in a performance of Change It, an inspirational song about how anyone has the ability to change the course of their lives.

Like Dolly Parton herself, 9 to 5 musical is a light-hearted, slightly raunchy production but it also has characters of depth and contains a strong message of female empowerment.