Review: 9 TO 5 at QPAC

This production runs until July 2nd; Read our critic's review.

By: May. 31, 2022

Review: 9 TO 5 at QPAC Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 is a musical that has the perfect casting to do what the show sets out to do: to have a feel good night at the theatre.

lf you're looking for high art, then you might want to give this musical a miss. Based on 1980 film of the same name, 9 to 5 is a workplace revenge comedy that is very much catered to a specific target audience of Mum's. The story has changed one bit from the movie: there are three secretaries (Marina Prior, Erin Clare and Casey Donovan) who band together after a series of injustices placed on them by their misogynistic boss played by Eddie Perfect. After they have removed their boss from the scene, the trio run the company, implementing working conditions for women that remain non-existent for many in our contemporary society.

However, the creators' stance on female empowerment and feminism is unclear. Whilst there is a song that encourages the audience to not judge a woman based on her looks, the show makes secretary Roz (Caroline O'Connor) the butt of the joke for her unlikeable appearance; a very misogynistic ideal. Similarly, the Perfect's prick of a secretary is portrayed with a misplaced sense of endearment and sympathy that fails to address the deeply problematic aspects of their exclusive 'boy-club' mentality. These examples are some of the many contradictions in the show.

Whilst Dolly Parton's pre-recorded messages to set up the story and have a sing along that were projected on the stage were a lovely touch, it did raise the question of whether or not the creative team had trust in the book to leave behind its own imprint... Regardless, it was a lovely touch and had the patrons beside me gawking in excitement.

Review: 9 TO 5 at QPAC

Despite the book and score being mediocre, the casting was sensational. The three leads and supporting acts carried the show. From Prior's sharp comic timing and her gritty delivery of the dialogue, to Clare's pocket-rocket retribution act, to Donovan's sweet, ditsy character which radiates a powerhouse voice from which she earns a standing ovation in the middle of act two, this trio of woman were a tour de force.

All the way from Broadway, Caroline O'Connor was the show's secret weapon whose solo number Heart to Hart, while undermining the entire premise of the show, was arguably the best and most entertaining number from the show. O'Connor's use of slapstick, her amped up raunchy sexual desires, she makes each of her scenes sizzle and makes us love her character, even if she's someone who no woman should aspire to be in our modern day world.

When I left the theatre, I couldn't remember any songs from the show bar the titular tune and O'Connor's dynamic number, as each song blended together. Nothing stood out in the score; there were no hits. I was waiting for each secretary to have their own style of Dolly Parton so to speak, but they didn't. And when three leads sang together, whilst their voices blended together beautifully, you couldn't tell either one of them apart.

If you're a big Dolly fan, go for the music and to see her face pop up from time to time. If you liked the movie, 9 to 5 is the perfect slice of nostalgia for you with its time specific sets and costumes thanks to the work of designer Tom Rogers. If you're looking for a good night out being immersed in Parton's world then book your tickets now. However, if you're looking for an intellectual, slice of life musical that will inspire you and challenge your way of thinking then this isn't the one for you.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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