Arts

Interview: Matthew Prime – He’s working 9 To 5

9 to 5 The Musical opens in Adelaide this week to preview audiences before the official opening night on 13 October, and features a star-studded cast including Erin Clare, Marina Prior, Caroline O’Connor, Casey Donovan and Eddie Perfect. It tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy, three enterprising workmates pushed to the edge by their mean-spirited boss Franklin Hart Jnr. Resorting to wit, comradery and cunning, they dream up a no holds barred scheme to kidnap and turn the tables on their controlling supervisor in the most hilariously defiant of ways. The only question is, will the feisty trio manage to change the office culture to reach their full potential – or will events unravel when the CEO pays an unexpected visit?

With a sparkling score by Dolly Parton and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick, 9 to 5 is the quintessential feel-good show for the times. Full of mischief, laughter and affection, it’s gold carat fun!

Not only does 9 to 5 have a brilliant line up of leads, but there are also several South Australians in this exceptional cast, including the wonderful Matthew Prime, who I was lucky enough to catch up with to talk about the show and where his love for theatre came from.

“Mu booked me into dance classes when I was around five. She used to teach callisthenics and I would sit on a chair and bounce in time to the music. My proper love for theatre grew from my time with Pelican Productions here in Adelaide from when I was eight. I didn’t think I could sing at all; I was very much just a dancer. I met, when I was eleven, Bec Schembri and Rosanne Hosking. They were really the two people who inspired me to follow a path to make the performing arts a career opportunity. They really guided me. My Mum and Dad, as well as my family, have always been huge in terms of encouragement. I also love the community that it provides here in Adelaide. I really have found some life-long friends through Pelican Productions.”

Programs like what Pelican Productions offers are such wonderful entry points to younger people who are looking for somewhere to fit in. Matthew explained that very much was the case for him.

“I was a bit of a weird kid because I did a lot of sport growing up, but did dance at the same time. I didn’t really know where I was to fit in. Pelican Productions was always just home for me. Each year at their summer camp I could literally just be myself. My friends didn’t care that I did sports as well. It really is such a family. Whilst the camp is only for two weeks a year, the bonds that are formed from these are for a lifetime. Even though we’ve all moved to different corners of Australia, or even in one friend’s case, the West End in London, we are all still close and stay in touch. You show more vulnerability in theatre, which really helps sometimes building these friendships.”

9 to 5 The Musical contains such a powerful message and it celebrates the wonderful music of Dolly Parton. What is it about the show that drew Matthew to audition for it?

“I really love Dolly’s music. The first time I really listened to the soundtrack for 9 to 5, and this sounds simple, but I walked away in a good mood. You can hear the humour from the show, but you can really hear the powerful message that comes through the show in the music. There’s a song in the show, I Just Might, that the first time I heard it, I just played it on repeat. It is such a beautiful, beautiful song. Hearing Casey, Erin and Marina sing it live night after night is just incredible. The show has a great powerful message, but it is delivered in such a caring, wonderful way. There’s great humour in the show as well. I still laugh at the side of the stage some two hundred shows in.”

This is truly a star-studded cast, featuring some of the best in the industry in Australia. Does Matthew still have ‘pinch me’ moments when he is performing?

“I remember being in the rehearsal room standing next to another Adelaide boy, Jordan Tomljenovic, and Caroline O’Connor sang her big number for the first time and we just looked at each other and couldn’t believe that we were in the same room as some of Australia’s finest performers. I am constantly pinching myself. I play Erin’s husband in the show and I cover Eddie as well, so for me personally I have had a wonderful connection with them all, and they all still inspire me. The whole cast is just wonderful.”

9 to 5 will be the first time Matthew will be performing in a large-scale touring production in front of a home crowd. Are the nerves and excitement running at an all time high?

“I’m super excited to finally be showing my home town how far I have come. I am feeling very lucky to be performing at the Festival Theatre in front of a home crowd. I am feeling very nervous about it, but it still is very exciting.”

Set the alarm for a great night out at Dolly Parton’s joyous smash-hit musical 9 to 5, featuring knock-out songs and high-flying ambitions. Running at The Festival Theatre from Oct 8. Grab your tickets to see Matthew Prime and this sensational cast at www.9to5themusical.com.au . Final tickets on sale.

Interviewed by: Ben Stefanoff

Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: From 8 October, 2022
Tickets: From $79
Bookings: www.9to5themusical.com.au 

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