9 to 5 tour kicks off impressively at the Mayflower

REVIEW: 9 to 5 – The Musical, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until September 4.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 11:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 11:24 pm
9 to 5 The Musical

At the end of Tuesday’s first-night performance of the UK tour, Louise Redknapp stepped out of role to say what just it meant to the company that the audience had kept faith during these awful 18 months.

It was quite a moment – and the end of an impressive evening. There’s no doubt: everyone involved has hit the ground running in this Dolly Parton-inspired tale of revenge and retribution.

Louise Redknapp as Violet, Vivian Panka as Judy and Stephanie Chandos as Doralee are three women variously ripped off, abused and overlooked by the ghastly bigoted sexist boss man Franklin Hart Jr (a superbly sleazy Sean Needham).

Franklin pushes and he pushes and eventually the worms turn – and string him up good and proper, using choice items from his very own Fifty Shades Of Grey-style Red Room wardrobe. And there he dangles as the ladies try to work out how best to cement their revenge without landing themselves in jail.

Of course, it’s all caricatured in the extreme and for comedy purposes… to the extent that it all seems a little bit of a period piece.

Surely, this kind of rampant sexism went out with the Carry On comedies? Is this still our era we are having reflected back at us?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But certainly the women in the audience lap up the come-uppance that the show dishes out, howling their approval as every last indignity is inflicted on the richly-deserving Franklin.

Stoking up the star factor we even get film of Dolly at the start of both halves and again at the end, helping the whole thing romp along nicely.

Strong performances throughout are particularly striking on this first night of the tour; and the choreography is already slick. For the moment, it’s only the mixing which is letting the cast down, just as it did with Six a few weeks ago at the Mayflower.

The words in the songs are clever. We need to hear them. Far too many are lost.