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9 to 5 The Musical

The cast of 9-5 The Musical. Photo courtesy of LWMS.

9 to 5 The Musical presented by the Leamington & Warwick Musical Society, at the Royal Spa Centre, Leamington. Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, book by Patricia Resnick. Running from 19 -23 March.

Review by Les Grafton.


As the curtain opens onto a bustling 70’s era office scene and the familiar strains of the hit song echo the 1980 film, this lively musical takes the audience back to the pre digital age of typewriters, secretaries and misogyny. The story is an early example of #MeToo and female empowerment, here wrapped in catchy, country flavoured songs from the pen of Dolly Parton. With a timely piece of programming, the Leamington & Warwick Musical Society have tapped into the current Country Music revival.

Director Stephen Duckham, along with Stage Director Nick Whiting confidently handle the large ensemble cast and fluid set whilst choreographer Emily Lewis keeps the stage filled with enthusiastic dance numbers. Sandy Weaver’s costume choices are on point for the period and blossom into full colour as the liberated work place evolves.

Leamington & Warwick Musical Society tap into the current Country Music revival. Photo courtesy of LWMS.

This show is a triumph of collaboration but the principals deserve mention, driving the narrative with a mixture of snappy dialogue and rousing tunes. Lizzie Buckingham as Violet, Zoe Hobman as new girl Judy and Nelle Cross as Doralee all sing with confidence. They showcase their great harmonies together in “I Just Might” and “Shine Like the Sun” and individually in their solo pieces. Doralee channels Parton’s sassy country girl, gussied up in her frills and bows even for the office and spells it out in “Backwards Barbie”. How topical!

Each female lead gets to display their range with ensemble pieces too, most noticeably when they get high on marijuana and fantasise revenge on their boss Franklin Hart Jr., ably played with malevolent gusto by David Walters. Judy transforms into a femme fatale for "The Dance O' Death", Doralee, inevitably, as a rodeo girl in "Cowgirl's Revenge”, and Violet in "Potion Notion" as a freaky Snow White. The plot takes a morally dark tone here with the girls getting their own back on their sexist boss but is saved by the uplift of female friendship and empowerment.

A story of friendship and empowerment.

 Lucy Maxwell is convincing as love-lorn Roz, and delivers a great solo in “Heart to Hart” accompanied by a chorus of clones. The show is packed with strong female performances, none better than the second act opener “One of the Boys”, a return to Hollywood style tap dancing with Violet realising she can lead the company in Hart’s place. Later she has a lovely duet, “Let Love Grow”, with co-worker Joe, actor Andrew Thomas, in fine voice. The reprise of “9-5” to close the show gives insight to the future fate of the leads, closing the circle fittingly, with special applause for Roz finding a new partnership with Hart’s wife.

Romance in the workplace. Photo courtesy of LWMS.

Musical Director Matt Flint matches the on-stage excellence with tight accompaniment from the pit, complementing this excellent production. I should mention the show is also extremely funny with some good sight gags as well a laugh out loud lines. You have a short window to witness the best in local musical theatre and recall a time when technology was simpler but the office workplace was more difficult.

This six-show run in the Royal Spa Centre is from Tuesday 19 to Saturday 23 March 2024 at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinée at 2.30pm. Tickets cost from £20 (£12 for limited view seats or under 16s anywhere in the theatre) from the Spa Centre Box Office

1 Comment

Mar 21

The review, thank you, truly reflects the spirit of the show and, indeed, of the Company. Don't miss this fun production.

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