The Musical – State Theatre, Arts Center Melbourne, reviewed by Alex First » J-Wire

July 17, 2022 by Alex First

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9 to 5 The musical is energetic, sassy and colorful.

Photo credit: David Hooley

What isn’t lost in this bright, airy production is the underlying point of it all.

Seeing him played makes you wince, as it should.

Franklin Hart Jnr (Eddie Perfect) is the misogynistic and pompous CEO of Consolidated Industries. He tramples on everyone and treats women with shame, putting them down and sexualizing them.

Among its employees is Violet Newstead (Marina Prior), a veteran office supervisor of 15 years, who is raising a teenage son on her own after her husband died nearly three years ago.

She is also pursued by a well-meaning young junior accountant, Joe (Ethan Jones).

Doralee Rhodes (Erin Clare) is a happily married peasant girl. She is targeted by Hart for her looks and as a result is ostracized by the other workers who believe the pair are having an affair.

Judy Bernley (Casey Donovan) has just separated after her husband, Dick (Joshua Mulheran), left her for his 19-year-old secretary.

Bernley has never worked before and cries a lot when things go wrong.

And then there’s Roz Keith (Caroline O’Connor), Hart’s memo-obsessed administrative assistant and “spy” who lusts after her boss.

Violet, Judy, and Doralee out to get revenge on the boss, which leads to lots of laughs.

The musical is based on the 1980 film and its continued relevance is unquestionable.

In fact, it’s a moving reminder of what men have been doing for far too long.

The audience’s vocal reaction to the pithy one-liners speaks volumes.

With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick, 9 to 5 is a hoot. Sometimes it’s downright ticklish. Some scenes are priceless.

The characters are lovely and the solid cast really nails their performances.

The show is smooth and flowing.

Vocally, the leads excel.

Marina Prior draws attention as a stomped supervisor, who has had enough.

Casey Donovan is adept at making the transition from naïve rookie.

Erin Clare shows the blonde bombshell has some smarts.

Eddie Perfect revels as a sleazy, self-obsessed CEO.

Caroline O’Connor is a scene stealer and don’t we just love her for it? She is breathtakingly brilliant.

Top and tail of the musical is Dolly Parton, who played Doralee Rhodes in the film and sang the hit song, which is also a mainstay of this production.

She appears on a circular video screen, being a watch face, the centerpiece of a towering gold and glitter sign that reads “9 to 5”.

Without wasting time, she introduces the main characters and shares their stories with us.

She has such a natural and effervescent talent.

The staging is superb.

Using a large video screen as a backdrop, the scene is framed by dozens of simple fake televisions that regularly change solid colors.

The accessories, which transport us to the different professional and domestic environments, are moved in seconds as the piece unfolds at a decent pace.

Directed by Jeff Calhoun, with choreographer Lisa Stevens, 9 to 5 is a triumphant, lighthearted musical that’s a lot of fun but still manages to deliver an important message.

9 to 5: The Musical plays at the State Theatre, Arts Center Melbourne until September 18, 2022.

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