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9 To 5: The Musical - New Wimbledon Theatre (Review)

9 to 5, New Wimbledon

Review by David Munro

I TAKE back all I might have said or implied in recent reviews about the British not being able to cope with the ‘American’ musical; 9 To 5 at the New Wimbledon proves how well, if they put their minds to it, the Brits can pull it off successfully.

This is a bright, breezy uninhibited bit of nonsense show, efficiently staged and excellently performed by a very British cast emulating effortlessly the American accent and style. It is based on a film of the same name and the writer of the film, Patricia Resnik, has also written the book for the musical.

The plot is nothing; three office workers kidnap their boss and make a success of their business getting plaudits and promotion at the final curtain. Along the way there is a succession of melodious and vivacious songs by Dolly Parton who has succeeded in blurring the line between Country and Western and ‘show’ music to produce a theatrically effective and tuneful score.

The three rebellious office girls are – Violet (Jackie Clune), the frustrated senior aiming for executive status, Doralee (Amy Lennox), the blonde bimbo bosses’ secretary maligned but good hearted, and Judy (Natalie Casey), the new girl with a problem.

Their boss and victim, Franklyn J Hart (Ben Richards), is delightfully evil and wickedly funny in a strictly melodramatic villainous way.

The four of them make a perfect farcical team and effortlessly carry along the very tenuous plot line on their competent shoulders.

All the girls have good singing voices and each excels in her spot number – Amy Lennox in particular makes a very plausible Dolly Parton style character.

Then, of course, there is Bonnie Langford, better than I have ever seen her, as Roz, the archetypical spinster in love with her boss who has a fiendishly funny high comedy striptease routine to end all striptease routines.

Miss Langford at last shows that, given good material, what a great comedienne she is and I hope in future she gets better chances than she has had to parade her very real talent.

The director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun makes the show move with an amazing pace and he is assisted in this by the versatile and mobile sets designed by Kenneth Foy, which are moved hither and yonder all over the stage without distracting from the action but complementing it (and gave the chorus something to do when they had a moment off from dancing).

Apart from the four principals the rest of the cast had little to do but dance up a storm and give support to the songs and keep the action on stage moving when the plot reared its ugly head, which they all did with ease and proficiency.

As you will have gathered I found this show enormously entertaining; it really is one of those pieces where you can ignore the plot and enjoy the show. It clearly relies heavily on the skill and expertise of the four principals who never let it down and keep up a relentless and happy dash through the evening with apparent ease and consummate artistry, well supported by the rest of the cast.

9 To 5 is definitely worth your while and I hope that you get as much pleasure from it as I did.

9 to 5 – the musical
Book by Patricia Resnik
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Director and choreographer – Jeff Calhoun
Designer – Kenneth Foy
Lighting – Ken Billington
Sound – Gareth Owen
Musical director – Mark Crossland

CAST: Ben Richards – Jackie Clune – Natalie Casey – Amy Lennox – Bonnie Langford – Hayley Ainsley – Ashley ASndrews – Philip Bertioli – Lisa Bridge – Nyroy Dixon – Persephone Fitzpatrick – Lori Haley Fox – Tom Anderew Hargreaves – Sinead Kelly – James – Lacey – Gemma Maclean – Peter McPherson – Marlon Moore – Sasi Strallon – Lauren Stroud – Andrew Waldron – Mark Willshire.

Presented by The Ambassador Theatre Group
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG.
From Monday, October 22 to Saturday, October 27, 2012
Evenings: 7.30pm/Matinees – Thurs & Sat 2.30pm
Box Office: 0870 060 6646