Replacing Dream Girls at the Savoy Theatre, Dolly Parton’s flashy musical 9 to 5 takes over as the new resident in London’s West End. The show is based on the 1980’s movie written by Patricia Resnik and starred the country queen herself. West End stars Bonnie Langford, Natalie McQueen and Caroline Sheen (standing in for an injured Louise Redknapp) take on lead roles in the production; along with Love Island star Amber Davies and television all-rounder, Brian Conley.
It wouldn’t be Dolly Parton’s show without some Dolly Parton in it! The singer/songwriter charmingly introduces the show and the leading ladies on television screens in the opening number. We are then thrown into the story of three office ladies Doralee, Judy, and Violet who work for their misogynistic and lazy boss; Franklin Hart Jr. Franklin has eyes for Doralee and despite being married continuously calls her into his office in a bid to seduce her. Judy has just been dumped by aptly named ex-husband Dick, and Violet is fighting her way to the top position in the company. When the women have finally had enough of Franklin and his mistreatment of them, they lock him up in his home and change the office for the better, whilst teaching Franklin a lesson he will never forget.
Natalie McQueen plays the role Parton originated, and is every bit the Dolly that you could hope for, playing Doralee as quirky and feisty with stunning vocals to match. Whilst Louise Redknapp recovers from injury, Caroline Sheen portrays Violet (until late March). Sheen is brilliant in the role and exudes excellent comedic timing. Amber Davies plays Judy, and in the first act it was felt that she overplayed ditzy and sensitive, but in act two brought the house down with power ballad ‘Get Out, Stay Out’ showing much more redeeming qualities. Bonnie Langford is still as fantastic as ever, her character Roz is one of the funniest and likeable in the show, and Langford impresses with her stronger than ever vocals and flexibility. Finally, Brian Conley’s portrayal as Franklin Hart Jr. is tongue-in-cheek, he’s very entertaining to watch but veered off into making the role occasionally a bit pantomime.
The show is fun, bright, and a bit crazy. The choreography by Lisa Stevens is slick and joyful to watch. Dolly Parton is known as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time and the music in the show really boasts this, leaving you bopping along throughout. Furthermore, the show leaves us with a message that even after being written in the 1980’s still is very poignant about women in today’s society. 9 to 5 is a fun night out if you are looking for something a bit silly but still very enjoyable. It is certainly a show for Parton fans as well as those who just want a bit of dazzle in a show.
Reviewed by Ellie Devonshire
Photo: Dan Wooller
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