Arts

Theatre Review: 9 to 5 The Musical

5

Presented by: Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed: 13 October 2022

9 to 5 The Musical opened in Adelaide in what must be one of the most explosive, high energy opening nights we have had for a long time. Full of charm, exquisite vocals, and tight choreography, this show has all the warmth and colour needed for a great night at the theatre.

Before I go any further, I implore you: go and purchase a ticket. This show is a must see. Not only does it have a powerful message about equality, but it is so perfectly executed, you can not fault a thing about this production.

9 to 5 features a star-studded cast including Erin Clare (Doralee), Marina Prior (Violet), Casey Donovan (Judy), Caroline O’Connor (Roz) and Eddie Perfect (Franklin Hart Jr). It tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy, three enterprising workmates pushed to the edge by their mean-spirited boss Franklin Hart Jr. Resorting to wit, comradery and cunning, they dream up a no-holds-barred scheme to 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?

9 to 5 The Musical is based on the 20th Century Fox movie of the same name and features a score by Dolly Parton and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter, Patricia Resnick. Dolly Parton even makes an appearance in this production, through the use of a prerecorded video feature. She acts as the narrator, tying the story together as the show progresses. Although the show is set in the 1980s, the message about equality in the workplace and beyond still sadly resonates today. This show highlights how far we have come as a society to rectify this, but also how far we still need to go. The show brings this across in such a creative way and really does make you reflect on what you can do to bring equality for all.

The performance that the cast gives is second to none. Erin Clare, Marina Prior and Casey Donovan lead this highly acclaimed cast with finesse, sensitivity and incredible vocal harmonies. Marina Prior’s years of experience on the stage gives her the sensitivity and maturity that is needed for Violet. Her big act two number, One of The Boys, was slick, tight and vocally showcased Marina’s sensational voice. Marina has the ability to say so much through small, well placed looks to the audience. Erin Clare, who plays the role Dolly Parton played in the original film, though she never once crosses into a parody of Dolly. She has an excellent command of the stage and quick, well executed lines with a flawless Texan accent. Vocally, Erin Clare’s voice is sublime. Her heart wrenching ballad, Backwards Barbie, hits hard, and her ability to connect with the lyric leaves the audience hanging on every note. Casey Donovan is sensational. There really is no other way to describe her performance. I’m not sure anyone was ready for the standing ovation-worthy performance from her big act two number, Get Out and Stay Out. Casey owns this role. Vocally, to be able to maintain such a faultless accent with a high placed larynx (apologies for getting vocally nerdy here for a moment), but to then hear this carried through into her singing, let alone her belt left this reviewer speechless. Whilst each of these fine performers gave bucketloads as individuals, as a trio, they are a tour de force. Their vocal blend is exquisite and they bounce off each other’s onstage energy, often leaving the audiences in fits of laughter.

Eddie Perfect oozes sleaze and sexism in the role of Franklin Hart Jr. You can’t help but love to hate the character, who represents that toxic-masculinity that is unfortunately all too common in the workplace. Eddie finds the comedy in this role perfectly and brings his own spin of the role with his trademark husky voice. Theatre royalty Caroline O’Connor often steals the show with her portrayal of Roz. Caroline really pulls out all the stops in her big act one number, Heart To Heart, which brings the house down.

The ensemble in 9 to 5 moves through this production with such energy. They handle scene changes seamlessly, are tight with their vocals, and their choreography is fast paced. It is often the ensemble of a production who does the heavy lifting in a show, and this ensemble brings so much joy. Their characterisations are excellent and varied, giving those of us who work in office environments a glimpse of our colleagues up there on stage. It’s hard to pinpoint any single stand out performance, but for three ensemble members who hail from South Australia, Lily Baulderstone, Matthew Prime, and Jordan Tomljenovic, 9 to 5 is the first time they have played a full-scale touring production in front of a home crowd.

The lighting, audio and tech values on 9 to 5 The Musical are seamless, as is the band under the direction of James Simpson. The band punched out this cracking score and brilliantly supported the cast.

Running for a limited season in Adelaide, 9 to 5 The Musical is the feel-good musical we really all need to see. Its message is vital, the cast is world-class, and the production values are sensational. Final tickets are on sale now.

Reviewed by: Ben Stefanoff

Photo credit: David Hooley

Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre
Season: 8 October – 5 November
Duration: 2.5 hours (inc 20min intermission)
Tickets: from $69.00
Bookings: www.9to5themusical.com.au or phone 131 246

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