Wednesday, 15 May 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Savoy theatre

After a mildly successful UK Tour a few years ago, 9 to 5 The Musical has hit the West End and moved into the Savoy Theatre.

Since opening in February, ticket sales have soared and the show has become a hotspot for hen parties and ‘ladies nights out’ - something which has been great for the producers; yet, painfully infuriating for regular theatre goers.

Since the UK Tour, there have been a lot of changes to the design of the show which sometimes works well and sometimes not so much. The show is set in 80’s and the set reflects this but the costumes toward the end of the show give much more of a 60’s feel. The use of screens around the stage and at the back of the stage really compliment the basic, moveable set and scene changes are slick and effective.

Amongst an almost entire leading ‘star’ cast, the standout is definitely the ‘lesser known’ Natalie McQueen as Doralee (Dolly Parton in the movie of the same name). She holds her own amongst the celebrity lineup and completely carries the show. With a well thought out character and impeccable accent, she is proof that a high profile isn’t compulsory to sell a show. It should be noted, however, that she is a well established stage actress and is known to most in the ‘theatre world’ - just not yet a household name. McQueens vocal ability is second to none and is very well controlled to ensure she delivers 8 shows a week and remains healthy. This role would be very easy to ‘over sing’ and McQueen gets the balance exactly right.

On the flip side of this, I previously believed that the casting of Amber Davies in the role of Judy was purely stunt casting. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. She is one of the strongest actors and vocalists in the company. Of course, she will still face harsh criticism because she found fame on Love Island, but I wholeheartedly believe that anybody who actually watches her in the role will eat their words.

The third leading lady comes in the form of 80’s pop star Louise Redknapp in the role of Violet. Whilst her vocals are up to scratch, her acting and more notably, her accent, are certainly less than average. Redknapp lacks any sort of comic timing and emotive range which makes the, arguably stiff, script even more laboured.

More often than not; when a show has a celebrity cast, the ensemble is absolutely incredible. This time around though - I think most credit should go to the celebrity cast. The ensemble lacked precision and unity and the featured ensemble, apart from Christopher Jordan Marshall, stumble over accents and don’t appear to connect to the text they’re delivering.

Whilst 9 to 5 is a fun, upbeat, lighthearted show with some real relevant issues including gender equality and the strength of united women, they’re not portrayed in the ways in which the current social climate requires - it’s all a bit gimmicky for my taste. Overly sexual and crude with no purpose.

I completely understand the appeal of this show to the older generation who remember the movie and first time theatre goers but is not a satisfying experience for people with more of an artistic and creative view on musical theatre. 

I absolutely loved 9 to 5 when it toured the UK in 2012/13 but I believe it’s time has now passed.

Review by Lucas Wang 

Rating: ★★

Seat: Dress Circle E14 | Price of Ticket: £65/£69.50

Book your tickets here 
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