9 to 5 The Musical at Miton Keynes Theatre (atgtickets.com)

 Reviewed by Alison Smith 25th September 2019

It is some 40 years since 9 to 5 The
Musical appeared, but its subject matter of gender inequality and sexual
harassment is still, unfortunately, as ubiquitous and as detrimental to women
as it was in the ‘80s. The redeeming features of treating this topic in a
frivolous musical however are the quality of the music, the acting and the
outcome – in this revenge fantasy it is the women who win!


Set in the offices of Consolidated
Industries the musical narrates the working lives of the ‘office girls’ – women
underrated and underpaid, and their sexist, predatory boss Mr Hart. Hart leers
at the young women and retches over the older women, makes offensive jokes and
treats all women as his servants. The dynamic team of three encapsulate the
situation of many women – Violet (Laura Tyler) widowed and overlooked for
promotion, Doralee (Georgina Castle) glamorous and misunderstood and Judy (Amber
Davies) a grieving divorcee of 21; they kidnap Hart, subject him to undignified
treatment and win their revenge by having him removed from his position of CEO
and replaced by Violet.


The success of the musical is not
only in the denouement, which rarely happens in ‘real’ life, but also in the comedic
treatment of the story. Franklin Hart Jnr is excellently portrayed by Brian
Conley. Conley uses gestures, one-liners and outrageous body language to appear
more of a pantomime baddie than a malevolent lecher. His rapport with the
audience almost neutralises the gravity of his behaviour. His faithful office
spy, Roz (Lucinda Lawrence) evokes laughter with her adoration of Hart, her
demure exterior and her sizzling interior; Judy Bernly makes us laugh with her
gauche behaviour; Doralee, -  I’m just a backwoods Barbie with push-up bra
and heels  -
 is the  stereotypical relative of Dolly Parton par
excellence. With such excellent
comedy characters the edge is taken off this serious topic.


And of course the music is excellent.
Dolly Parton, who participates in the performance through pre-recorded images
at the beginning and end of the performance, wrote the music and lyrics. Two
numbers are outstanding - 9 to 5 and Backwoods Barbie, a reflection on Dolly Parton’s own looks and
worth. The ensemble are a talented group – slick in their dancing (and their
moving of the sets) and in tune vocally. The orchestra must also be praised for
its wonderful performance, although its volume occasionally drowned out the

9 to 5 The Musical is a
musical social commentary – far removed from the 
#MeToo movement in its depiction, but based
on the same premise – women must be treated equally to men.

9 to 5 The Musical  is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th


0844 871 7652

Booking fee applies