City Academy’s Tuesday Company served up a Dolly-ightful production of “9 to 5: The Musical.” This toe-tapping tale of friendship and empowerment remains relevant, and the talented cast and crew bring it to life with boundless enthusiasm. With captivating performances, minimalistic yet clever staging, and just a few minor hiccups, this show guarantees a delightful evening of theatre that will have you dancing in your seat and yearning for a world where everyone gets their fair share.
In the heart of the summer, City Academy’s Tuesday Company brings us a vibrant rendition of “9 to 5: The Musical,” a production that effortlessly captures the spirit of the original 1980 hit movie. With music and lyrics by the iconic Dolly Parton and a witty book by Patricia Resnick, this high-energy show takes us back to the late 1970s, when three unlikely friends find themselves challenging the status quo in a man’s world.
The show’s outrageous and thought-provoking storyline revolves around friendship and revenge, highlighting the struggles faced by women in the workplace.
After more than four decades (43 years already!), the themes of the pay gap and chauvinism still resonate sadly and painfully in today’s society. However, this production manages to infuse the narrative with added sass and Dolly Parton’s unmistakable charm.
The opening number, although staged simply, impressively showcases a massive cast on stage. The choreography is skillfully executed, ensuring that not a single dancer misses a beat. However, during the energetic and beloved number “9 to 5,” the cast’s movements feel somewhat minimalistic and subdued. It would have been delightful to witness a more lively and dynamic interpretation of this song.
Captivating Performances with Minimalistic Staging
The female leads deliver exceptional vocal performances throughout the production. Miranda Mazzarella, in the role of Violet, and Tair Doron, as Doralee, deliver standout vocal performances that are nothing short of Dolly-lirious (excuse my lame pun, I just had to). Mazzarella’s voice commands attention, capturing Violet’s determination and resilience with every note. Doron, on the other hand, channels Dolly Parton’s signature sound flawlessly, infusing Doralee’s character with a powerful blend of charm and strength. And just when you think you’ve witnessed the pinnacle of the vocal performances in the show, Teo Mechetiuc as Judy astounds the audience with her rendition of “Get Out and Stay Out.” The final, sustained note left everyone in the theatre breathless.
Comic Brilliance and Campy Charm
Anita Hammerton-Reid, in the role of Roz, brings a strong physical comedy factor to the show. Nowhere is this more evident than during the memorably sexy number “Heart to Hart” – these moves… I can’t believe she pulled it off on stage, the amount of camp was ridiculous, in a good way.
Meanwhile, Euan Brown is great as an appropriately sinister boss – just the right amount of “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot”, to make us root for the 3 female leads throughout the show.
Costume Creativity and Dolly Vibes
Daphne Salomons, the head of costumes, deserves recognition for her monumental task of dressing three companies, each consisting of 39 people (just for this Company!). Her choice of delicate, pastel, classic office outfits blended with surprisingly glamorous and sparkling ensembles for the “Dance of Death” sequence worked splendidly on the Polish Theatre stage. While the cheap blonde wig worn by Doreen may not have entirely worked for me, it undeniably evoked the iconic Dolly vibes that the character embodies.
A delightful touch was the incorporation of video segments featuring the real Dolly Parton, who narrated the story at the beginning and end of the show. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the round, central circle piece of the stage set was underutilised throughout the performance. Although it predominantly displayed the time (mostly 1 pm), and sometimes Dolly’s face, it would have been wonderful to see it come to life more animatedly, perhaps with confetti during the dance scenes, and some other added dynamic projections.
The stage was simply set, with a simple metal balcony with the band sitting underneath, and a big, recognisable logo of the musical hanging from the top. And again – just like with “Evita” last year, I appreciated the way the band was clearly in sight – I always claim, we don’t give enough credit to these fantastic performers, who tend to play hidden behind a stage piece usually. Here, a talented band of seven musicians skillfully brought the classic pop/country musical standards to life, delivering outstanding performances that perfectly captured the essence of the genre.
At the beginning of the show (first 2 songs), I had some issues hearing the actors clearly and felt like the music was sometimes a tad too loud. But despite these initial issues, the rest of the show was pretty much perfect sound-wise. Bravo to the tech team for their full control over the situation.
About the show:
9 to 5: The Musical, by City Academy Tuesday Company
Director: Joseph Winer
Musical Director: Ashley Harvey
Choreographer: Ughetta Pratesi
Producer: Abigail Welford
3-9 July 2023, Polish Theatre, Hammersmith