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BrumHour saw 9 to 5 at the invitation of The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production explores themes of office harassment and sexual equality, and contains strong language.
Review: 9 to 5 at The Alexandra
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton, Book by Patricia Resnick, Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Welcome to 1980s America: A huge multinational business office in a big city welcomes Judy (Vivian Panka) to her first day, and she’s lied about her Resume (CV). Despite being found out about her embellishment of previous work, her new boss Violet (Louise Redknapp) tells Judy that they will see how it goes (!). Meanwhile higher up in the building Doralee (Stephanie Chandos) is slowly realising just how much of a sleaze their boss Franklin Hart, Jr (Richard Taylor Woods) really is.
This casual setup suddenly gets into the plot! I’ve not seen the film so this was a sharp turn for me as I only knew the song 9 to 5 itself! In the lunch room, Violet accidentally puts rat poison in Franklin Hart, Jr’s coffee and, they think they’ve killed him off! They go to the hospital to check: when he’s back at his desk soon after, they go back to the lunch room to discuss the matter and Roz (Julia J. Nagle) who has a crush on Franklin overhears the conversation and suddenly the ladies jobs are in danger.
The first act is 75 minutes long and really zips on by as the songs propel the plot along at a fair pace the second act lasts 40-something minutes and serves to really tidy up the story.
I really enjoyed the music, songs and the plot of this story, It is fun, inclusive and all about every single person mattering. I wasn’t entirely sure about some of the humour itself, there are some sexist jokes that your mate’s strange uncle probably told thirty years ago and they are said directly to a largely (on this night) female audience. More demonstrating their point than doing it for laughs.
A huge clock hangs in the middle of the stage making the letter O in 9 tO 5. Old desktop PCs hang from the sides and across the top of the stage. The PCs and their lines along with the clock almost create an Alice in Wonderland feeling. Video of Dolly Parton appears and rather than just an introduction, Dolly Parton gives us opening narration for each act and the finale. It has her real stamp of approval on it. And that alone is good enough for me.
Julia J. Nagle delivers a standout performance as Roz, stealing every scene she is in, and I was really pleasantly surprised by Louise Redknapp stage presence, she obviously holds her own singing but to see her acting with what is clearly a tricky American accent to do was great.
The excited audience gave this a deserved standing ovation and rightly so.
9 to 5 is a fun and smart comedy musical that will leave you feeling happy. It is at The Alexandra until 20th November 2021. Book tickets here: atgtickets.com/shows/9-to-5-the-musical/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham/