Dolly Parton might just be the epitome of positivity, girl power and fun. 9 to 5 has exploded into Melbourne led by a killer cast and backed by one of the best ensembles in the business.
Based on the film of the same name, 9 to 5 tells the story of three unlikely friends who find themselves working in the same office building. The three woman bond over their awful encounters with their chauvinistic, sexist, toxic boss; Franklin Hart Jnr (Eddie Perfect). Since its original opening on Broadway in 2009, the show has undergone major rewrites, making for a short and snappy show that makes it from interval to the final bow in around 45 minutes. Having seen the original, it is fair to say that the bits that are cut, will not be missed.
On the night we attended the show, the role of Violet Newstead was played by Marina Prior's understudy Zoe Coppinger. As disappointing as it may have been for patrons to be missing out on seeing one of the leading ladies of Australian musical theatre in action, Coppinger is an absolute star. Her sense of authority, comedic timing and sharp-as-a-tac movements make for a sensational performance that will leave you instantly forgetting she is in fact, an understudy.
Caroline O'Connor turns a supporting role into an unforgettable piece of this musical puzzle. How can one put into words the glory that is THE Caroline O'Connor? Playing the role of Roz, O'Connor makes "Heart to Hart" one of the standout numbers of the show. She is the entire package and leaves nothing behind. It is truly an honour just to watch her perform.
In arguably the best-written role in the show, Erin Clare delivers a stunning performance as Doralee Rhodes. Clare gives a truely honest and raw performance whilst delivering powerhouse vocals from start to finish. Casey Donovan gives an interesting interpretation of Judy - beginning as a flighty, high-pitched "new girl" and then plateauing all the way to the eleven o'clock number ("Get Out and Stay Out") - which provides a vocally stark contrast to anything else she does in the show.
The ensemble in this production deserve a standing ovation. There is rarely a scene where they are not on stage and the choreography (by Lisa Stevens) is absolute fire. The energy level is consistently set to 100, the characters are clear and defined (special shout out to Sarah Krndija for being absolutely hysterical), they provide backing vocals for nearly every number, move most of the set pieces (while dancing) and honestly carry the weight of the entire show.
With all that said, this power of this production is near-ruined by poor sound quality. The vocals often barely make it over the music and even when they do, the lyrics are almost unintelligible. You can visually see the actors are singing with full power, but you simply cannot hear it. This overall makes for quite an underwhelming performance overall, which is a real let down considering the calibre of this cast. After discussions with other theatre patrons who attended alternate evenings, this appears to be a consistent problem that one can only hope will be fixed in future performances.
If you're looking for a good time, and Six feels a bit 'young' for you, then 9 to 5 is definitely your ticket to a great night out. Currently playing at the State Theatre in Melbourne, surrounded by awesome restaurants, make this show a must-see-with-mum.
Photos: David Hooley