For a great night out, go no further! This slick, sassy, joyous and thoroughly entertaining show is a winner.
From the moment one enters the theatre, the over-the-top 9 to 5 logo dominates the stage with its gold and sparkles, and one is immediately struck by a clear message that this is not going to be a night of subtlety. When the music starts, it’s loud, and the astoundingly energetic, vigorous and precise dancing and singing of the full, very talented ensemble sets the pace for the continuing rowdy jollity: a wonderful sort of The Pyjama Game meets How to Succeed in Business… show, updated and up-paced for the 21st century. It’s really great fun!
It is full of innuendos, suggestive and even blatant sexual references, lots of good laughs, silliness, raucousness and tenderness, as well as well-timed anti-chauvenistic and pro-equality messages still very relevant for today. A really nice touch is the real-life video cameos of Dolly Parton herself, giving us some snippets of narrative throughout.
Marina Prior leads the cast and the story with her established professionalism as Violet, the efficient and faithful company employee, with a strong voice and presence. She is ably supported by Erin Clare as Doralee – a beautiful blonde bombshell who is no “backwoods Barbie”, and Casey Donovan as Judy – naiive, sweet and inexperienced, but eager and open to possibilities. Caroline O’Connor as Roz shows a fine span of emotions, as the Admin Assistant, who is straight-laced and officious on the surface, as well as wildly sexily lovelorn underneath. Meanwhile Eddie Perfect manages to live up to his name in his portrayal of the misogynist, chauvinist, sexist prick of a boss, who managed to sing whilst literally strung up from the ceiling, as well as he did with his feet on the ground.
All the voices are strong and polished, both among these principals and the ensemble, several of whom are SA locals. My only complaint is that when they sing, as they do mostly very loudly, the words – especially of the soloists – do not come across and are lost. This is unfortunate because it means that some of the impact of Dolly Parton’s songs is lost. But in the gentler, more tender and reflective moments, the words are much more discernible. The orchestra in the pit, under the direction of James Simpson, was excellent throughout, fully capable of soft, loud and precise as necessary.
The stage is surrounded by a scaffold of light panels, garishly changing colour and brilliance as the story demands, as part of the lighting design by Howard Hudson, complementing the changing backdrop of various skyscraper views, and neat and efficient scene and set changes by Tom Rogers, who also designed the costumes.
This combination of actors, singers, choreography (by Lisa Stevens) directed by Jeff Calhoun, together with all the technical, sound, and backstage and administrative support that is required of such a large, professional undertaking, has produced a fantastic, unchallenging and thoroughly uplifting and enjoyable show. A most welcome antidote to any Covid blues – reward yourself, and see it!
John Frost for Crossroads Live, Suzanne Jones and The Ambassador Theatre Group
9 to 5 – The Musical
music and lyrics Dolly Parton | book Patricia Resnick
Director Jeff Calhoun
Venue: Adelaide Festival Centre | Festival Theatre SA
Dates: 8 October – 5 November, 2022
Tickets: from $69
Bookings: 9to5themusical.com.au | 131 246