9 to 5 – State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne (VIC)
Book by Patricia Resnick, music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Reviewed by Ambrose Steinmetz
10 July - 17 September $69 - $179
Working 9 to 5 has never been more camp. With a book by Patricia Resnick and Music & Lyrics by the one and only Dolly Parton, Tony Award winning 9 to 5 has clocked in at Melbourne’s state theatre, backed by some serious star power. Based on the 1980 film of the same name, 9 to 5 is a look into how dull humdrum office life can quickly turn into kidnapping your boss with enough of a push and a little Dolly Parton flair. One look at the dazzling 9 to 5 set piece at front and centre and opening night audiences knew they were in for a treat.
When naïve Judy Bernly (Casey Donovan) steps into the office of Consolidated Industries for her first day, she’s thrown into a world of office gossip, uptight micro managers, and the golden rule of corporate life – stick to the status quo. There she meets Violet Newstead (Marina Prior), the grounded matriarch practically running the place and Doralee Rhodes (Erin Clare), a misunderstood, self-confessed backwards barbie. Banded together by a mutual hatred for the handsy misogynist that is their boss Franklin Hart Jnr (Eddie Perfect), the three women fantasize of a workplace without him. Things escalate quickly after an unfortunate mix-up of coffee and rat poison and the three women must navigate staying out of jail and improving office life whilst Hart is tangled in a mess of his own making.
The stellar cast of 9 to 5 made it easy to love this show. Prior as Violet Newstead was strong and powerful, particularly in her energetic number “One of the Boys”. As the charming Doralee Rhodes, Clare gave a beautifully nuanced performance with a voice to boot. Donovan transformed into soft spoken Judy Bernly and her 11 o’clock number “Get Out and Stay Out” was the highlight of the show. With her spectacular vocals she took the audience on a journey which ended with everyone on their feet clapping through tears.
Caroline O’Connor embodied the strait laced, sexually repressed Roz Keith and her physicality and comedic timing in “Heart to Hart” had the audience in fits of laughter. Perfect as Hart was hilariously unlikeable, his smug gruffness making it all the more satisfying when we watched our three leading ladies take him down. The show had a wildly talented ensemble, but a particular shout out to Sarah Krndija as the office drunk Margaret. Her Kristen Wig-esque portrayal stole every scene and was an utter delight to watch in the periphery.
© DAVID HOOLEY
The overall attention to detail throughout this production was excellent, with crisp choreography by Lisa Stevens and costuming by Tom Rogers that felt of the time, without being a caricature. The familiar music of Dolly Parton was backed by a lush orchestra led expertly by James Simpson. The scenic design was bright and bold, and with the sporadic appearances of Dolly herself (in digital media form) bookending the show as its narrator, the State Theatre was enraptured.
Set your out of office Melbourne, 9 to 5 is an outlandish show with all the trimmings and female empowerment at its core. Whether you’re a Dolly worshipper (and frankly, you should be) or a casual enthusiast, get to this all singing all dancing production while you can.
9 to 5 plays at the State Theatre until September 17th. You can book tickets here.
MELBOURNE SEASON DETAILS Venue State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne Season To 17 September Performance Times Wed -Thurs 7pm, Fri-Sat 7.30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply) Bookings: 9to5themusical.com.au or phone 1300 182 183 Groups 8+ call 1300 889 278
ADELAIDE SEASON DETAILS Venue Festival Theatre Season From 8 October Performance Times Wed 6:30pm, Thurs-Sat 7.30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply) Bookings: 9to5themusical.com.au or phone 131 246 Groups 8+ 08 8205 2220