BWW Review: 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, Edinburgh Playhouse
When you think of country music icon Dolly Parton, passion, storytelling and female empowerment spring to mind. Her musical 9 to 5 ticks all those boxes. Following the plot of the 1980 film of the same name, Dolly Parton again teamed up with the film's writers Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins to bring the musical to Broadway in 2009.
Ten years later, the repackaged show made its West End debut, having previously toured the UK in 2012. Big and unashamedly bold as Dolly Parton herself, the story centres on three office workers who long to overpower their chauvinistic and deceitful boss. It's a battle of gender inequality and celebration of female unity.
Unfortunately, the plot feels outdated and thin, which is often the downfall of many musicals ripped straight off the 80s screen. Especially an unnecessary shoe-horned-in love story, which has no deep script development and undermines the leads' achievements.
To counteract the fun but flimsy story, 9 to 5's score packs a punch. Memorable, rousing and story-driven, they have Parton's signature across every note. She even joins in via video screens for the title tune, as well as serving as a casual narrator. Every appearance is a much-appreciated joyful burst of sunbeams.
It is unusual for a West End show to take their leading stars on tour when the show is still on in London. However, this second UK tour has both leading names on its billing.
Love Island winner Amber Davies is not just a star casting as Judy. Her powerful solo "Get Out and Stay Out" highlights her professional training, and her vocals outshine her reality TV fame.
Headline star of the show is pop princess Louise Redknapp - playing the role of Violet, originated on Broadway by Academy Award-winner Allison Janney. However, due to last-minute scheduling reasons, the role was filled by her alternate Laura Tyrer, whose performance was phenomenal. Tyrer brought fierce 80s leading lady realness and CEO chic throughout, and her solo "One of the Boys" felt straight off a Broadway stage.
Rising star Georgina Castle completes the trio and gives the strongest performance of the night. She steps into the high-heeled shoes of Doralee, played by Parton herself in the original film. With a diamond heart, under a rhinestone exterior, Castle expertly treads the thin line between bombshell and businesswoman, while never diving into complete parody.
Tumble out the house and stumble to the theatre, because 9 to 5 is an imperfect but enjoyable night out.
9 to 5 The Musical runs at Edinburgh Playhouse until 16 November, then continues on tour and plays the West End.