9 to 5 The Musical (Oxford Operatic Society), New Theatre Oxford | Review

Thursday, 31 May 2018

9 to 5 The Musical (Oxford Operatic Society)
New Theatre Oxford
Reviewed on Tuesday 29th May 2018 by Emma Gradwell

Based on the 1980 film of the same name, 9 to 5 The Musical is set in the late seventies in the Offices of Consolidated Industries. It takes us back to a time of telephones with dials, electric type writers, very big hair and some odious male predatory behaviour. 

The story, which is not a very stretching narrative, centres around three female employees all of whom have their own personal problems. Long term employee and single parent Violet (played by Frankie Alexandra) has been passed up for a deserving promotion by sleazy CEO Franklin Hart Jr. (played by Dave Crewe) as he likes to keep his management team strictly a boy’s club. Shapely and kind hearted Doralee (played by Saffi Needham) discovers that her office unpopularity is down to unfounded rumours from Mr. Hart that they have been having an affair. It is Judy’s (played by Nicola Blake) first time employment having been financially reliant on her now absent husband. 

The trio come together and find a mutual loathing of how they are being treated by Mr. Hart and they carry out their revenge. 

The three leads all carry out their roles with finesse. Frankie Alexandra’s Violet is confident and her relationship with junior accountant Joe (played by Guy Grinsley) is very sweet. This is certainly one of the nicest dynamics in this production and their rendition of Let Love Grow was beautifully executed. Nicola Blake as Judy was truly the mouse who roared and her performance of Get Out and Stay Out was moving as she transitioned from the put upon victim to the ruler of her own destiny. Saffi Needham as Doralee was every bit as bubbly and buxom as Dolly herself and is a fine performer. 

Dave Crewe as Franklin Hart was not as powerful or seedy as he needed to be and his performance was outshone by the three leading ladies. A notable mention must go to Nicola Jones as Roz, the delusional and smitten assistant of Mr. Hart whose version of Heart to Hart was comedic and well executed. 

At times it felt as if there were way too many people on the stage and at times they were noticeably out of synch with one another during the big dance numbers. At other times it was seamless and impressive. Some of the set changes were evidently clumsy. 

With music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton there is not much to complain about with the musical score. The songs have a strong country pop feel as you would expect and move the story along well. The orchestra were fantastic. 

The atmosphere of the show created by the nasty and sexist antics that were tolerated to a point back in the 70’s/80’s did leave an unpleasant taste. Although the well-meaning message of female empowerment was evident, in a time of the #METOO campaign I was uncomfortable with some of the humour that carried it. 

Oxford Operatic Society (OXOPS) have an excellent reputation as one of Oxford’s best non-professional companies and they put on a great show.

9 to 5 The Musical is at the New Theatre Oxford until June 2nd