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9 to 5: the Musical (Southampton - tour)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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With the Dolly Parton and film connection you expect 9 to 5 to be a feel good musical. However it lacks a sympathetic personality to engage with. Most of the leading characters are wafer thin stereotypes within a story about female empowerment. Mark Moraghan plays a misogynistic CEO of Consolidated Industries, Franklyn J. Hart, who goes to great lengths to make the main characters’ lives a misery.

Jackie Clune is workaholic Violet Newstead, who is cheated out of a promotion that Franklyn gives to a man. Natalie Casey plays the newcomer to Consolidated Industries, Judy Bernley, newly divorced, who has never worked outside the home. Amy Lennox stands out from the trio as the Dolly Parton character, Doralee Rhodes, who shows that there is more to her than being Franklyn’s secretary during her song, “Backwoods Barbie”.

During the first act the plot meanders as it establishes the characters’ problems with their boss. The musical is full of reoccurring jokes that are not funny, including an alcoholic secretary, Margaret. The “token good guy” of the story, Joe, is played capably by Mark Willshire} though the character is underused. It is only by the end of the first act that the story picks up, when a misunderstanding leads to a harebrained scheme to kidnap Franklyn and find a way to discredit him. Yet it is clear during the second act that the plot feels predictable.

There are some bright moments. [Bonnie Langford

is the highlight of the show as Franklyn’s crotchety executive assistant, Roz Keith, who gives a weirdly enticing performance during “Heart to Hart”, in which she expresses her secret desire for Franklyn. Dolly Parton herself makes appearances in the form of a projection at the start and end of both acts to give a narration of the story. There is some great choreography on the ensemble’s part which could have made for a fun musical. Yet 9 to 5 lacks heart, making it difficult to relate to a thinly drawn story.


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