Jackie Davies reviews 9 To 5 The Musical at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff starring Caroline Sheen, Amber Davies, Georgina Castle and Sean Needham.
The big hair and shoulder pads may have transported us back to the 80’s in this superb new production of the now classic 9 to 5, but the wit, sentiment and humour was firmly rooted in the here and now, as a talented cast brought new relevance to the age-old issues of bullying, sexual harassment and inequality in the work-place.
Alarming that it is, almost forty years since Dolly Parton penned both the music and lyrics as well as starred in the original film, but what a legacy that this musical comedy is as entertaining to audiences today as it was then.
Bringing new relevance to a younger audience, this production remained faithful to the original and in scenes reminiscent to ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ highlighted how the three lead females threw off their shackles of work-place inequality and instead gained empowerment.
The musical was narrated by a pre-recorded image of Dolly Parton, and the leading trio of Caroline Sheen as Violet, Amber Davies as Judy and Georgina Castle as Doralee were tasked with obtaining revenge over their sexist, bullying and manipulative boss, Franklin Hart, played by Sean Needham.
A superb set, with a New York back-drop skyline framed by a series of ubiquitous and clumsy white 80’s computer monitors set the scene for the comedy, which was not without its poignancy juxtaposed with pure slapstick and farce.
Sean Needham provided much of the humour in a fine portrayal of the vile Franklin Hart. Seedy, leering and dishonest, his comeuppance by being strapped into his own fetish gear and hoisted by chandelier cables with a gag in his mouth, strangely received no sympathy!
There was a great chemistry between the three female leads as they each battled their own insecurities and each were gifted a show-stopping number that cemented their talent.
Caroline Sheen’s, Violet took the biggest journey, from being the over-looked secretary denied promotion to the eventual CEO of the company, her transformation was heart-warming, and her big spotlight number ‘One of the Boys’ highlighted this perfectly.
Georgina Castle was more than able to fill Dolly Parton’s boots, and she lent empathy and vulnerability to the role, with her solo, ‘Backwoods Barbie’ raising a big cheer as it sent out the same (maybe even more relevant) message today as it did when it was written.
Amber Davies surely stunned all her ‘Love Island’ doubters with a triumphant performance, culminating in a power-house rendition of ‘Get Out and Stay Out’ which more than satisfied an appreciative audience.
Mention, too must be made of the hilarious Lucinda Lawrence as Hart’s assistant and office-spy Roz Keith, who’s comedic, lustful and passionate tango highlighted her unrequited love for her boss perfectly.
Laugh out loud, and uplifting, this is musical theatre at its best. Don’t miss it!