It’s an all time 1980s classic. It’s a story of three women who work for a sexist egotistical boss and deliver his comeuppance in spectacular style. The theme tune sung by Dolly Parton became a global smash and as it is the way with these things it eventually made its way into realms of the world of theatre by becoming a musical. This revival debuted in the West End earlier this year and is currently embarking on its national tour hitting the Palace Theatre all this week.
The musical is pretty much based on the 1980 film of the same name, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. It features a book by Patricia Resnick, based on the screenplay by Resnick and Colin Higgins. Indeed, it was surprising how much of the original plot the musical follows given that such productions have sought to create their own identity. Of course, whilst the film starred the great Dolly and had that stand out hit, it was not for all intents and purposes a musical. This features the music of Parton, and despite the mixed reviews to the original production, it did garner Tony and Grammy award nominations for its music.
The West End revival featured the star turn of Louise Redknapp and surprisingly for a West End show featuring a stellar name, the UK Tour features some of that cast. Redknapp indeed makes the trip playing the fiercely passionate Violet Newstead, along with the delightful charms of the talented Amber Davies as Judy Bernly. Redknapp gives a great turn as the spirited office worker. Her pop music background comes to good use, although musical theatre is often a different kind of challenge for singers, and whilst critics like myself would no doubt highlight any shortcomings, it is fair to say that there isn’t, Louise gives a credible performance.
The rest of the cast are just as joyous to watch. Davies as the prim and proper Judy whilst Georgina Castle positively shines as the alluring Doralee. As with all musicals it is when the cast all come together for the big ensemble items that this musical truly shines. Well choreographed and well acted and add to that the slick set design you can begin to understand the production values of a top west end hit.
However, as much as this is a feelgood show, I feel that it misses a trick or two. Given the times we lives in and the whole #metoo movement, that the show had not been updated or improved to take into account the current trends. The original run of this musical drew criticism in failing to do justice to the strong feminist and gender politics of the film. Its a view I concur with. It instead focuses on a bawdy theatrical romp than a heavy hitting piece, wanting to be more Rocky Horror than Blood Brothers. That is unfortunately a missed opportunity.
Nonetheless, it does what it does well. If it is a feelgood, bawdy singalong romp you’re wanting then this is that to aplomb. It’s extremely uplifting, the songs are toe-tappingly saccharine, the acting is spot on and more importantly it is a hugely enjoyable night. And sometimes that’s all you need!
Verdict: Lavish and feelgood musical of the 1980s classic film Nine To five. This will having you tapping your toes, singing along to the Dolly Parton hit and genuinely leaving you with a warm glow!