Review: 9 To 5 the Musical at the Savoy Theatre

9 To 5 the Musical

“everything you could want from a show”

Stumble out of bed and get yourself a ticket for 9 To 5 the Musical as soon as you can.

Based on the 20th Century Fox film, 9 To 5 the musical has a book by Patricia Resnick, direction by Jeff Calhoun and music and lyrics by the legendary Dolly Parton. The show opened in London in January 2019 and has been given nothing but rave reviews on social media and reviewing platforms.

I’m not sure why but I was slightly sceptical about the production. From what I’d seen, the show looked a little cheesy if I’m honest and I really wasn’t sure whether I’d love it or hate it. But the complete and utter truth is that I really enjoyed the show and it certainly deserves the amazing reviews it has been receiving.

Caroline Sheen, Natalie McQueen and Amber Davies in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Pamela Raith

9 To 5 the Musical tells the story of three leading ladies – Violet played by Louise Redknapp, Doralee played by Natalie McQueen and Judy, played by Amber Davies – who, after a series of unfortunate events, end up kidnapping and holding hostage their egotistical and sexist boss, played by Brian Conley.

The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds, but it is executed brilliantly, and makes for both a hugely entertaining piece of theatre and a feminist story that every man, woman and child should see. Act 1 was my favourite by far, with Act 2 ending with a little too much cheese for my taste, but what could you expect from a Dolly Parton show?!

Louise Redknapp has just taken over from Caroline Sheen in the role of Violet, after she suffered an accident before the show opened in January. This shows ever so slightly, as she doesn’t feel as natural in the role as her two other leading ladies, but nonetheless gives a good performance as the most senior woman in the office. She owns the stage as a woman who knows what she wants and what she deserves. Numbers “Around Here” and “One of the Boys” especially are great.

Louise Redknapp in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Simon Turtle

Character Doralee has the heels, accent, breasts and hair for audiences to know she is the Dolly Parton role and Natalie McQueen does the role more than justice in this show. A true delight to watch on stage, McQueen nails both the singing and the acting, making Doralee an endearing and hugely likable character. While the rest of the office assume she is sleeping with the boss, Doralee shows a sensitive side during song “Backwards Barbie” which left me truly touched. Natalie McQueen was a standout amongst a talented group of women and brought a lot to a wonderful show.

Natalie McQueen in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Pamela Raith

Amber Davies, much like her character Judy, has much to prove in this production. As her first West End debut, and character Judy’s first real job, they have much in common. But as Judy thrives in the office, as does Davies take to the stage. Due to her appearance on popular ITV2 Series Love Island, many on social media have assumed that she is a classic case of celebrity casting, where the role is allocated based on fame rather than talent. Well let me tell you that Amber Davies belongs on the stage as much as any of the other cast involved. She comes into her own throughout the show, and her vocals in her solo number “Get Out and Stay Out” left me with goosebumps. She is a real star and this is only the beginning for her on stage.

Amber Davies in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Pamela Raith

What I truly loved about this combination of ladies was that every woman in the audience can relate to issues each of them are going through, whether that be struggles of a single mother, sexism in the office, sexualisation, judgement based on appearance, a heartbreak, or starting your first job as the “new girl”, these characters were so relatable I could see why this show is making such an impact.

A true star and hero of this great production is the one and only theatre legend Bonnie Langford in the role of boss Franklin Hart Jr’s dedicated and smitten secretary. Doing his every bidding, she is a keen worker, but we learn much more about her motivations during perfectly performed and sidesplittingly funny song “Heart to Hart”. Her character never falters throughout the show and she is proof that you don’t have to be in a leading role to steal the show.

Bonnie Langford in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Pamela Raith

 9 To 5 the Musical comes at a perfect time in social and political life, as women everywhere are standing up with the #MeToo campaign. This is especially prominent when looking at the relationship between boss Franklin Hart Jr. and his secretary Doralee. He makes advances on her multiple times despite her saying no and reminding him that she is a married man, as well as drooling over her on multiple occasions…need I say more? The show is eye opening to inappropriate sexual behaviour in everyday life and is a wakeup call to women to ensure they are not being mistreated in any way, even if it seems harmless.

These kickass ladies prove that women can take the lead in all walks of life and this feminist show was summed up in a line spoken by Violet to boss Franklin Hart Jr “I’m not a girl, I’m a woman”. It was truly an empowering moment and encompassed the crucial message of the show in just one phrase.

It was moments like this, accompanied with Amber Davies’ powerful solo, featuring lines such as “I do not need a man” that made me realise how important this show is. I want my future daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter and every generation afterwards to see this show. It is a show for women to continue to realise their worth without needing male accreditation for being a boss in and out of the office.  

Caroline Sheen, Amber Davies and Natalie McQueen in 9 To 5 the Musical
Credit: Pamela Raith

9 To 5 the Musical is one that will stay with me for a long time and I hugely recommend it to everyone. Packed with fun and female bosses, this show is everything you could want, with maybe a little too much cheese at the end?

9 To 5 the Musical is currently playing at the Savoy Theatre and heads out on a UK tour in September 2019.


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