Home » London Theatre Reviews » 9 to 5 the Musical at New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

9 to 5 the Musical at New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Dolly Parton’s musical 9 to 5 sets out to do one thing: ENTERTAIN, and it does this superbly. The show has just started an extended tour at Wimbledon Theatre, where it looked completely at home on the large stage, and was warmly welcomed by a predominantly female audience.

v9 to 5 The Musical. Louise Redknapp 'Violet Newstead'. Pamela Raith Photography.
9 to 5 The Musical. Louise Redknapp ‘Violet Newstead’. Pamela Raith Photography.

It started life as a movie in 1978 with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a witty script by Patricia Resnick. The outrageous plot – inspired by real-life events – concerns three secretaries who have the worst boss in the world (who is totally dismissive of women), and who decide to do something about it…

This touring production seems just as lavish as the West End one, last seen before Covid interrupted everything. It is brightly and imaginatively designed by Tom Rogers, directed with panache by Jeff Calhoun and choreographed inventively and humourously by Lisa Stevens, the whole ensemble doing full justice to all her moves, being very slick. In fact, slick is the perfect word to describe this production!

The leading role of Violet Newstead, the secretary who becomes the ringleader of the revolt against her boss, is played by Louise Redknapp. She has that rare quality, charisma, and her acting and singing appear effortless. She commands the stage by appearing to do nothing at all, when in fact she is always totally ‘in role’ and subtly listening and reacting to others. She is eminently watchable throughout. She is blessed with an attractive singing voice and well nigh perfect diction, not just singing the songs but making the most of what she is given.

Sean Needham is the ‘Boss’ Franklin Hart Jnr, making the most of his two-dimensional ‘villain’ and being exceedingly amusing. He is, as Patricia Resnick says, the archetypal male chauvinist pig, but does it all so nicely that most of the women in the audience, especially those of a certain age, would like to cuddle him. He makes the role fun, as it is intended to be.

Stephanie Chandos, in the ‘Dolly Parton’ role of dumb blonde secretary Doralee Rhodes is very funny but the amplified sound means that we cannot hear everything that her ‘baby doll’ voice sings and speaks, which is a shame as she works hard and clearly knows what she is doing.

In a large cast, Julia Nagle also impresses as Roz, actually in love with Hart! and Callum Henderson (Dwayne) and Clayton Rosa (Post Boy) make the most of the limited opportunities they are given, as do Demmileigh Foster as Maria and Emily Bull as Kathy.

The orchestra under Dean McDermott and suitably guitar-based orchestrations by Bruce Coughlin provides the icing on the cake, especially in Wimbledon’s large pit. The sound balance (Ben Harrison Sound Designer) between singers and pit is well nigh perfect in the first act, but as the second half progresses the volume of the orchestra appears to be raised so that they are inclined to swamp the singers which is irritating, especially when the singing is of such a high standard from nearly all concerned.

All in all though, 9 to 5 is pure, perfect, escapist entertainment, and will hopefully encourage those who have never been to the theatre before to give it a try. I hope they do as they will have a great evening – strongly recommended if it tours to a theatre near you, as it almost certainly will, as the show is produced by ATG who have 58 theatres around the UK and who currently have an online ‘Price Promise’ of tickets for £13 each for their touring productions.

5 Star Rating

Review by John Groves

9 to 5 the Musical tells the story of three workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist and egotistical boss. Concocting a plan to kidnap and turn the tables on their despicable supervisor, will the women manage to reform their office – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?

With an Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-nominated score by the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton, and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick, this hilarious new production is about teaming up, standing up and taking care of business!

Please note: Age recommendation 12+. This production contains comic sexual references, light drug use and the occasional curse word. Dolly Parton will not be appearing live in this production.

LISTINGS INFORMATION
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL
2021 – 2022 UK TOUR LISTINGS

TUESDAY 19 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 23 OCTOBER 2021
New Wimbledon Theatre
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 26 OCTOBER – SATURDAY 30 OCTOBER 2021
Nottingham Theatre Royal
www.trch.co.uk
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 2 NOVEMBER – SATURDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2021
Liverpool Empire
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER – SATURDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2021
Sunderland Empire
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 16 NOVEMBER – SATURDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2021
The Alexandra, Birmingham
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 23 NOVEMBER – SATURDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2021
Eden Court, Inverness
www.eden-court.co.uk
CASTING TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

TUESDAY 30 NOVEMBER – SATURDAY 4 DECEMBER 2021
Theatre Royal Plymouth
www.theatreroyal.com
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 25 – SATURDAY 29 JANUARY 2022
Glasgow King’s Theatre
LOUISE REDKNAPP STARS AS VIOLET NEWSTEAD

TUESDAY 1 – SATURDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2022
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
CASTING TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

TUESDAY 1 – SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2022
Manchester Palace Theatre

Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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