From Dolly Parton superfans to an accidental convert, here’s what audiences thought of 9 to 5 the musical
Inspired by the 1980 film starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman, 9 to 5 the Musical is a story of sexism, revenge and ultimately female empowerment.
The Australian production of the West End musical stars Casey Donovan, Marina Prior, Erin Clare, Caroline O’Connor and Eddie Perfect, with music by Dolly Parton.
Entertainment journalist Richard Reid went to see the show on the night of its Sydney premiere.
“I’ve always been a big fan of the movie, and of course Dolly is making her big screen debut,” he said.
“So I was really struck and pleasantly surprised when they really opened up the movie into a full-scale musical.”
Reid said every actor on stage delivered, but he chose Casey Donovan.
“We all know her as a superb singer, but her acting – I was so blown away by the pathos and emotion she brought to the role, and her comedic timing is supreme,” he said.
The screenplay was written by Patricia Resnick, who also wrote the screenplay for the film.
“Of course the movie is one of those comedy classics from I think it was around 1980,” Reid said.
“It was really the start of equal pay for equal work, and it really had a very feminist flavor to it.
“And seeing the show on stage, it really showed how far we haven’t come in terms of equal pay for equal jobs, and women in the workforce really aren’t taken seriously.”
While Reid would consider herself a Dolly Parton superfan, Wynonah Dove says she’s more than a superfan.
And Parton, although she doesn’t know it, has a huge impact on Dove’s life.
Dove has been a musician herself since she was 15 and worked as a Dolly Parton tribute artist and impersonator for about a decade.
“That’s actually how I came to Australia,” she said.
“I was in a show playing Dolly Parton and I met my partner, who is Australian, and he was the drummer for the show.
“And that’s how I ended up in Australia because of Dolly Parton.”
But it’s more than Parton’s music and her “songwriting genius,” Dove admires the way Parton used the success she had to give back.
“She’s done so much to try to help and help others and [it’s] not to fill your own wallet and pat yourself on the back,” Dove said.
“She’s just a real humanitarian. And that’s what I love about Dolly.
“I think that’s what draws me to her, she’s a good human, they’re good people.”
So, needless to say, when Dove went to see the musical 9 to 5 at the Capitol Theater in Sydney, she was “tickled”.
“I was surprised because I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said.
“And to be honest with you, I don’t like musicals very much.
“I’m from a very rural area of Appalachia in America, so it wasn’t something I really got to do, and I never got to go to New York and see musicals, so I was so excited to go see this.”
Dove said if anything, the musical was delivered.
“It came to your heart. It made me so happy. I cried, I laughed,” she said.
“All the actors did such a phenomenal job; the music, the vocals, everything.
“I was amazed and I was very pleasantly surprised.
You might expect Reid and Dove to find 9 to 5 spectacular, especially Dove, who said she nearly had a heart attack when she saw Parton narrating part of the show.
But spare a thought for Sydneysider Louise Capistrano who went to see the musical last weekend.
“All I knew was the song, and that was it,” she said, adding that she only found out there was a movie of the same name on the day of the birthday. ‘episode.
Despite this, Capistrano said she liked the musical and thought even the villain was likable.
“And I think the overall theme is still so relevant, especially for a woman,” she said.
“Also, for me, I started in the workforce, in the office environment maybe five years ago…and I mean, to look at that, and now be where they are in a kind of meaning, and [for it] to have that kind of relevance, I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s crazy.”
“What happened to the progress? Is there progress? I don’t know.”
Sally Bartlett doesn’t work 9-5 days. She is up much earlier to stock shelves and prepare online orders in a supermarket.
But she too could identify with the story.
“I think they did a really good job of bringing the movie to life,” she said.
“I thought it was amazing – the energy of the cast and the songs – it was so well done.
“It was such a beautiful setting.”
She traveled to Sydney from Adelaide specifically to see the show after the soundtrack appeared on her Spotify playlist a few years ago.
“I’m actually hoping he comes to Adelaide so maybe I can take someone else to see him as well,” she said.
She attended the show in Sydney with her brother Christian Bartlett, an actor who works in musical theatre.
“I thought it was a brilliant show,” Mr. Bartlett said.
“It’s very funny, but it’s also a strong message.
“And I think it was nice to be able to see what it was like for her in that time and how they got on with it, and had a little fun doing it.”
9 to 5 is currently playing in Sydney, before moving to Brisbane in May and Melbourne in July.