9 to 5 the musical has arrived in Edinburgh this week and it was time to see what all the hype was about. I was very keen to experience this musical, as it is one I have never seen before. I attended the press night at the Edinburgh Playhouse to see if it was worth stumbling out of bed for.
The musical in set in the late 1970’s and follows three co- workers Violet, Doralee and Judy who are fed up of their sexist boss treating them horribly. They then plot to kidnap him and make some changes to the company in order to make it better.
Laura Tyrer is sensational in the role of Violet. Upon her first entrance, the audience are faced with a hardworking woman who is feisty and is juggling being a single mother and her job as a secretary. I felt that Laura gave an incredibly strong performance and her voice was beautiful and her dance ability even better. She has her fair share of comedic moments in the show and these were the ones I enjoyed watching the most. In the scene where all three women are in the hospital trying to find out if their boss they accidentally poisoned is in critical condition, Laura is hysterical and she managed to capture both a sense of hysteria and calm at the same time which had me and the rest of the audience in stitches.
Amber Davies is utterly astounding. Her portrayal of Judy is just wonderful. She made herself so available to the audience and she held them in the palm of her hand every minute she was on stage. Her character’s journey is one of the most important in the show, as she goes from an inconsolable young girl to a powerful women who stands up for herself. Her voice is other worldly and every time she was singing I felt like I didn’t breathe because I was so encapsulated. I found this specifically in the second act in the number “Get out and stay out”. Amber just stood centre stage and sung her heart out and it was not only incredibly impressive but also very moving.
Georgina Castle is so fun loving and sweet and I really loved her performance as Doralee. She brings a wonderful energy to this role and is truly magnetic on stage. Her comedic timing is flawless, this can be seen in the scene when her character ties up her boss before she has a plan for what she is going to do with him. Much like Amber’s character, Georgina does a really good job of letting the audience share her journey of finding who she is and in numbers such as “Backwoods Barbie” she allowed herself to be vulnerable and accessible.
It must be said that the chemistry between Laura, Amber and Georgina was just astonishing. Watching them perform together was electric and when they came together to sing it was just breath-taking.
Sean Needham plays Franklin Hart Junior as a horrible and egoistical boss. The audience are introduced to him at the beginning of the show in the number “Here for you”, where he is trying to seduce Doralee and he is utterly sleazy. I really enjoyed watching Sean’s performance as I felt like he was able to bring us a character that all of the audience had had an encounter with at one point in their lives. Sean also had any comedic moments during the show and was able to make us all laugh until our sides split, particularly when he was suspended in the air at the end of act one and opening of act two.
Lucinda Lawrence’s Roz is altogether amusing and exciting to watch. Her character at the start of the show is quite uptight and desperate for her colleagues to follow the rules. Roz is dedicated to her boss Franklin and it is clear that she would do anything for him. Lucinda has a strong voice but I was so impressed by her dancing ability especially in the number “Heart to Hart” which is a fantasy sequence where she confesses her love for her boss. She executed every move with grace and her energy levels were out of this world.
Christopher Jordan Marshall gives a good performance as Joe. The chemistry between him and Laura was great and overall he did a really good job in making his character likeable. He gave a very honest performance and I found him really easy to watch.
Stephanie Chandos gives a good performance as Margaret. She does well in providing comic relief during many moments of the show. Her physical presence amps up her comedic moments and she did not fail to make the audience laugh.
We cannot forget to mention the ensemble in this production as they were fantastic. This musical has many little dance sequences during set changes and always have the ensemble doing something to add to the production. I felt that all of these little moments really added depth to the production and I liked to see all the different moments that were created. I do not think this production would have worked well if it were not for this ensemble as they were such an integral part. The ensemble for the press night were as follows: Joe Atkinson, Georgia Bradshaw, Ashford Campbell, Edward Chitticks, Ross Lee Fowkes, Jemima Loddy, Jacob Maynard, Matt Overfield, Ricardo Spriggs, Leah St. Luce, Sierra Brewerton, Connor Crown, Ryan Goscinski and Kirsty Anne Shaw.
The music and lyrics Dolly Parton has written for this show are brilliant. The songs are catchy and when I was listening to them I could not help but grin from ear to ear. This score has a balance between huge ensemble numbers, songs that have some much heart and depth and stunning harmonies. Dolly has successfully created music and lyrics that are really aiding the characters in telling the story of the show and this in turn makes the storytelling much stronger. I found the score so fresh and exciting and will be listening to it on repeat!
Patricia Resnick has created a terrific book for this musical. The political undercurrent is presented in such a hilarious way, the audience are able to really connect with the issues and messages of the show. Even though this musical is set in the late 1970’s, it is interesting to see that some of the issues still remain in our society today. I admire that this show follows three powerful women, this is very rare that a show shares the role of protagonist and I really enjoyed following three separate characters over the course of the show.
Jeff Calhoun has done in excellent job in the direction of this production of 9 to 5, he manages to create the atmosphere of a workplace perfectly. There is always something happening on stage and when there are huge company numbers it is difficult to focus on just one movement as there is so much to look at. At first I didn’t know how I felt about this chaotic energy but as the show progressed it was evident that life is always moving and especially in a workplace so I understood this choice and found it a really great concept. I also applaud Jeff on the character relationships that were built in this show. There was not one character who didn’t have a strong relationship with one another.
Tom Rogers set design is vibrant and impressive. From the LED computer screens that lined the proscenium to the multipurpose units that doubled as sinks and counter tops, the design was epic. Much like the direction of this show, the set was busy and always moving. I thought the scene changes were effortless and I was interested to see what the next piece of set would be.
The only issue I had with this production was sometimes not being able to hear the actors over the orchestra. This was due to the sound levels of the microphones being a little too low. This in turn made is difficult to hear what the actors were singing.
Overall, this show is surpassed all of my expectations and is a triumph. A musical full of heart and phenomenal performances. I would highly recommend you get yourself along to this production of 9 to 5 at the Edinburgh Playhouse.
Written by Alison Frater
Get Tickets for ‘9 To 5’ via the below link: