Review: Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical at Liverpool Empire theatre

Posted on 31 July 2013
By Angela Johnson
  • Share:

Amid a sea of clapping hands, swaying hips and scouse vocal chords working in unison, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 the Musical brought the house down at the Liverpool Empire theatre last night.

Re-worked as a stage show, the 1980 comedy film starred the lady herself Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and it’s a pleasure to watch in 2013 and see none of the humour has been lost in its transition from screen to stage.

Greeted by a video projection of Dolly who warmly welcomes us and explains that times have changed since the 70s – setting the scene for the lowly female secretaries we are about to meet – and acts as ‘narrator’ throughout the show including a farewell ‘Thank you, Liverpool!’. A nice touch to see Dolly’s taken the time to record a special clip for each venue across the UK.

Our trio of under-appreciated women are lead by widowed single mum Violet Newstead (Jackie Clune) who is constantly overlooked for promotion despite years’ of dedicated service, downtrodden divorcee Judy Bernley (Natalie Casey) who’s discovering there’s more to life than being slave to a man and the bubbly blonde Doralee Rhodes (Amy Lennox) who gets judged for her ‘Backwards Barbie’ looks and desperately wants to be counted for her skills rather than her curves.

Patricia Resnick has expertly adapted her original screenplay to stage and woven in the superbly upbeat, and at at times surprisingly moving, musical numbers (all penned by Parton) opening and closing of course with the inimitable anthem 9 to 5.

Natalie Casey’s caterpillar to butterfly performance as Judy, executed with a mixture of perfect comic timing and raw emotion in show stopper “Get Out and Stay Out” is a joy to watch. There’s some definite scene stealing as we see unrequited burning love played out in raunchy fantasy ‘Heart to Hart’ by personal assistant Roz Keith (Anita Louise Combe) while Ben Richards shines as sleazy boss Franklin J Hart.

From meek grumbling over the water cooler through to accidentally poisoning and kidnapping their bigoted boss, the plot unravels in ridiculously absurd fashion and we’re rooting for the gals every step of the way as they grasp a chance to change their lives for the better.

One of the most fun, feel good shows you are likely to see this year so get the girls together (or brings the boys to remind ’em of what they’ve got) and make a night of it.

Click rating: ***** What a way to make a living!

9 to 5 is at the Liverpool Empire until Sat 3rd August.

Book tickets: