9 to 5 The Musical - Review

9 to 5 The Musical. Picture: Simon Annand
9 to 5 The Musical. Picture: Simon Annand

9 to 5 The Musical, Opera House, Manchester

Sexism – and worse – in the workplace might not seem the first choice for a musical amidst current revelations . . . especially where there’s an added historical dimension.

But it’s a sure-enough sign of the potency of this show that it can sweep aside any such misgivings, even if one song does gets its wires crossed over office emancipation.

All of which would be to take 9 to 5 The Musical more seriously than, thankfully, it ever takes itself.

Thirty years after it achieved semi cult status as a movie the musical theatre version arrives on these shores as part of Ambassador Theatre Group’s Manchester Gets It First policy and there seems no reason why many more of their venues will not also be won over by a production that is fun, fast and full of good performances.

One of the film’s original stars, indomitable queen of country and western Dolly Parton, has added more music to a solidly 1980s story of how three women take on their boss, a Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot . . . and that’s just one of the song titles.

Dolly herself floats above the story, literally, as a typically larger-than-life projected image introducing the story and its characters, or leading the rousing finale of the show’s theme tune.

Several of the performers need no such introduction, especially the likes of Ben Richards or Jackie Clune as the key protagonists, but the cast are all top drawer. Bonnie Langford is a special scene-stealer when her character discovers her inner vamp, climaxing in a tango routine that would get her through a couple of weeks on Strictly should her career ever slow. On this showing that’s unlikely to happen.

The second act could do without the padding of one or two of the songs, even Clune’s ensemble piece One Of The Boys, since it suggests glamour may be the best asset with which to climb the corporate ladder.

Certainly upper body strength is the best asset for a hard-working dance crew man (and woman) handling dozens of scene changes.

9 to 5 The Musical runs until October 20.

David Upton