Reviewed by Joanna Woodburn
Dolly Parton’s sensational smash hit musical, 9 to 5 the Musical is currently on tour and playing at the New Theatre in Oxford. Based on the 1978, 9 to 5 the movie, starring Dolly Parton, this is a feel good, laughter filled show, full of entertainment.
The New Theatre, Oxford is situated right in the centre of the historic city. Parking is available for Blue Badge holders on New Inn Hall Street and Worcester Street Car Park, both of which are between 5 and 10 minutes from the venue. There is an excellent Park and Ride service and the theatre is just a ten minute walk from the station. The New Theatre has an impressive auditorium with comfortable seats and is completely access friendly. Staff are very welcoming and friendly.
The musical is set in 1980 and tells the story of three office workmates seething with the injustice of working under their sexist boss who has sexually harassed and discriminated against them. The show expertly manages to excel in its comedy while at the same time exploring the sensitive issue of misogyny. With themes as relevant now as they were in the 1980s, it is thought provoking when one of the characters, Violet says she bets that equal pay for equal work won’t be a concern in 10 years time. It definitely does strike a chord!
With both the music and lyrics written by the icon herself, the show also feels like a homage to Dolly. The three secretaries are shrewd, whip smart and hard working, underestimated because of their looks and yet beneath it all we sense a vulnerability.
The musical is narrated by Dolly Parton, who appears by video footage to introduce the story as well as at key points. From start to finish, there are so many moments for us to indulge – the jokes keep coming and are laugh out loud! Even though the boss, Hart gets strung up by the three heroines, we know it is all good fun!
As for the cast, they really did give it their all. The main cast members were breathtakingly talented with brilliant acting as well as singing. Claire Sweeney gives a high energy and confident performance as the smart and charismatic Violet. Stephanie Chandos is perfectly cast as Doralee, with spot on body language and cracking note perfect vocals. Vivian Panka plays the sweet and likeable Judy most convincingly. Sean Needham as the pantomime baddy Hart brings the house down, never taking the character seriously, completely playing for laughs and with perfect comic timing he is very, very funny from start to finish.
The music powers the story forwards, it is uplifting and toe tapping and captures the spirit of this joyful show perfectly, with the rip roaring 9 to 5 song being the jewel in the crown.
9 to 5 the Musical is fun filled show guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. We recommend you pour yourself a cup of ambition and get on down to The New Theatre, Oxford for a good singalong and a right ole time!
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £3.65 transaction fee).
9 to 5 the Musical is at the New Theatre in Oxford from 18 January to 22 January 2022, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/oxford or call the box office on 0844 871 3020
New Theatre Oxford, George Street, Oxford, OX1 2AG