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Friday, 31 December 2021

Pocket Picks: Best Shows of 2021

Here at Pocket Size Theatre, we are lucky enough to see some wonderful shows; some entertaining, some mindblowing, some beautiful and even some life-changing. We've accumulated a list of our top-rated shows from 2021, what a year it's been! Take a look at our list and start thinking of your theatrical highlights and share them with us on Twitter! @PocketSizeBlog

A quick note, even though these are our top shows of the year, we applaud and would like to congratulate every single person involved in putting on ANY show this year. It's been another tough year for our industry and anyone who provides entertainment and live theatre is a hero. You're amazing! 

"Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography is slick and on and there are no words for how marvellous Gabriella Slade’s out of this world costumes are. The musical is aimed at a younger audience; with bright lights, confetti, glittery outfits and modern references- which makes you feel like you’re seeing a girl band live rather than sat in a history lesson. The best of both worlds! The Queens are sarcastic and feisty in their comic delivery, and SIX has that kind of self-awareness that holds onto the element of intimacy that I would imagine wowed the very first audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe 4 years ago."

"They have the perfect recipe to appeal to and entertain any member of the public. I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t smile at least once throughout a Mischief Comedy production. If you are looking to escape the challenges of reality for a few hours, then rush to buy a ticket for this show. Treat yourself to an evening of truly joyous tomfoolery and talent; I can assure you; you won’t regret this magical treat!"


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

REVIEW: 9 to 5 - the Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre

"Dreams and plans are in the making, success is out there for the taking…wish it was as simple as it sounds”, a lyric from the musical’s opening song that launches this story of ambition against adversity. '9 to 5' is Dolly Parton’s musical version of the legendary film she starred in alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in 1979. The movie became an iconic snapshot of office life and inequality as three women face patronising and degrading treatment from a chauvinistic boss. The popularity and lasting legacy of the movie seems the perfect recipe for a musical adaptation and Dolly is the perfect person to make it happen. 

Originally premiering on Broadway in 2009, '9 to 5' has since enjoyed success on tour and most recently had its London premiere at The Savoy Theatre. This October the latest tour hits the road starting at The New Wimbledon Theatre. After passing across the red carpet I was given a complimentary programme and drinks were served in a “Cup of Ambition” in a nod to the title song of the show. 

It would be rare to be at a wedding disco or a karaoke night without hearing Dolly’s iconic Oscar-nominated song '9 to 5', so as the orchestra strikes up the opening chords the audience are immediately transported back to the 1980s. Dolly famously used the sound of her fingernails to replicate the tapping of a typewriter as an introduction to the tune. As a huge treat to her many fans in the audience, Dolly herself appears on screen to introduce the show and characters. Dolly gives a wink and signature giggle when she introduces Doralee, the character she played herself in the film. 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Mayflower Theatre

The huge 2300 seat grade II listed Mayflower Theatre has bounced back from the pandemic closure with a strong programme of Musical theatre and in a short period since reopening has presented tours of The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray and now the opening week of 2021 regional tour of 9 to 5. The strongly themed shows around sexual awakenment and transvestism, racial equality and integration and female equality in the workplace respectively, though wrapped up in a period feel of the sixties to the eighties, still resonate well with audiences today in the era of Pride, Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. But most of all they work as entertainments because they are fun, high energy and presented with a knowing charm, well targeted at audiences who crave that feel-good factor on a night out.

It is interesting that the West End too has found a strong response to Anything Goes at the Barbican, Hairspray at the Coliseum and Jersey Boys at the Trafalgar Theatre and now in previews, Back to the Future at the Adelphi with their period feel and lively high-quality presentation. The regional sector may not get the same production values and big-name casting but venues like the Mayflower are big and roomy enough to offer well-priced comfortable access to these big musical shows with top ticket prices less than half the average price achieved in London. It makes for a very good value night out without the travel hassles of the London Tube or a 20-mph speed limit in the congestion zone in London!

Thursday, 17 October 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Dolly Parton presents 9 to 5, a superbly assembled cheese-fest of a musical based on the film of the same name, starring none other than Dolly herself. Following the story of 3 women, each subjected to sexual discrimination and inequality in the workplace, 9 to 5 is a hugely uplifting fun night at the theatre for newcomers and seasoned visitors alike. 

Via pre-recorded video, Dolly sets the tone for the show with narrations introducing us to our leading ladies and even kicks of the singing of the title song. 1) Violet Newstead, played by Laura Tyrer, is a working mother who’s spent years working for ‘Consolidated Industries’ as reaches her breaking point after she misses out on a promotion to a younger male colleague who she trained. 2) Judy Bernly, played by Amber Davies (of Love Island fame), a 21 year-old embarking on her first ever job after leaving her husband when she discovered he’d had an affair with his 19 year-old secretary, and finally 3) “Backwoods Barbie” Doralee Rhodes played by Georgina Castle, the role made famous by Dolly Parton in the original film. Doralee is happily married but after her loud-mouthed boss starts spreading rumours that he and Doralee are having an affair, the ladies of the office turn their back on her and judge this blonde-bombshell all too quickly. “We don’t like her” says Violet…. 

This feminist fun-fest of a musical sees Violet, Judy and Doralee embark on a fight for equality in the most ridiculous of ways - there are ball-gags, rat poison and spliffs involved… It’s wonderful fun; comedic and empowering all at once. The audience at the New Victoria Theatre was packed to the rafters and hugely responsive to this wonderful show. If you were fast enough to buy a ticket, you’re in luck - (the run has almost completely sold out at time of publishing). 

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre

Based on the 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton this loveable comedy has transferred from screen to stage. Judy Bernly (Chelsea Halfpenny) is forced to find work after her husband runs off with this secretary. Her new boss Franklin Heart Jr (Brian Conley) mistreats his female coworkers terribly with abusive language, harassment and sexual remarks. Having had enough Judy along with her two coworkers Violet Newstead (Caroline Sheen) and Doralee Rhodes (Natalie McQueen) storm out of the office and bond over their fantasies of revenge on their sexist boss.

Overall the stage adaptation is bright, colourful and heart warming all at the same time. From the second the first alarm bell rings in the opening number 9 to 5 there is a sense of intrigue in the air. The show is packed with a perfect balance of uplifting and emotionally charged musical numbers perfect for all generations from young children to grandparents. The clever use of Dolly Parton's video messages really does give it that final personal touch. However the shows backbone is pure comedy and you can feel this in the audience throughout. The show is littered with brilliant one liners and relatable references, constantly gaining genuine laugh out loud moments from the audience.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

20 Production shots that describe the struggles of being in a Musical | Part 2

Following our overwhelming response to our article last year, we have decided to bring this back! Production Pictures that describe the struggles of being in a musical smashed all of our records last year and we had such fun creating it, so here's another one! We hope you all like it as much as last year and enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. 

Please note, this article is merely light-hearted entertainment. We respect and adore all the performers and shows involved in this and hope that it is viewed in the same way. 

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.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre

9 to 5 originally ran on Broadway 10 years ago with Megan Hilty, Stephanie J Block and Allison Janney in the leading roles. This was followed closely with a UK tour production, similar to the broadway production but with a few tweaks and song changes. What is amazing is that it has taken 10 years for the show to finally make it to the West End, ever since I first heard the cast recording I have been dying to see it come to London, I got my wish and it is running at the Savoy Theatre in a ‘strictly limited season’. 

Inspired by the original 1980 film starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5 tells the story of three work colleagues who find themselves having to conjure up a plan whilst they kidnap their boss and take over the office, running it the way it should be. 

The show is very relevant to whats going on in our world today; equality is a big factor to this show and its portrayed in such a crude way by Franklin Hart, Jr (played by Brian Conley) that it is shocking. Although the issues are important unfortunately the writing doesn't handle them in the best way, it comes across a little too crass when it could be a little more subtle. Franklin often tells random jokes over the course of the show that are sexist and they just feel like they’re in there for show and not for any contribution to the story. 

Friday, 11 January 2019

Louise Redknapp withdraws from the opening of 9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre

Louise Redknapp has withdrawn from the upcoming West End production of 9 to 5 due being left with serious injuries after falling over outside of rehearsals. 

The producers have today released a statement. 

“Due to an injury this week, Louise Redknapp has had to temporarily withdraw from performing the role of Violet in 9 to 5 The Musical. The recovery time recommended means Louise is no longer able to properly rehearse the show in the remaining time left before opening. Together we have made the difficult decision to delay Louise’s start date in the show. We hope that Louise will start performances sometime towards the end of March/early April 2019. Everyone at 9 to 5 wishes Louise a speedy recovery and we look forward to welcoming her back”.

The name of the actress stepping in to play the role in Louise’s absence will be announced shortly. Any patrons who would like to exchange their tickets to a performance when Louise has returned to the show should contact their point of sale.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Pocket Size Theatre | Whats opening in 2019

There's a lot of things going on next year in the world of theatre; revivals of much loved shows, Broadway transfers, UK transfers, returns of shows previously in London, new writing and so much more! So here's our guide to the theatrical highlights of 2019! Get your diaries out... 

Aspects of Love | Southwark Playhouse | 7th January 

Six the Musical | Arts Theatre | Opens 16th January


Friday, 30 November 2018

Bonnie Langford to reprise role of Roz Keith in West End production of 9 TO 5

Bonnie is currently starring as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Most recently, she played the role of Carmel Kazemi in EastEnders, winning Best Newcomer at the 2015 British Soap Awards. She played the role of Roz on the 2012 UK tour. 

Bonnie made her theatre debut in the West End at the tender age of seven in Gone with the Wind at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The following year she played ‘Baby June’ in Gypsy opposite Angela Lansbury at the Piccadilly Theatre, making such an impact that the producers took her to America with the show for a highly successful run on Broadway. For this performance, at the age of ten, Bonnie was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Her Theatre credits include Cats (Original London Cast), The Gillian Lynne Theatre (formerly New London Theatre); The Pirates Of Penzance, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and London Palladium; Peter Pan – The Musical, Aldwych Theatre; Me And My Girl, Adelphi Theatre; Sweet Charity, Victoria Palace Theatre; Spamalot, Harold Pinter and Playhouse Theatres; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Savoy Theatre and Roxie Hart in Chicago, Adelphi and Cambridge Theatres and on Broadway.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

What is closing in the West End in January?

Kinky Boots | Final Performance on the 12th January 

After almost 3 and a half years in London's West End, Kinky Boots closes its doors at the Adelphi Theatre on the 12th January to make way for the Broadway transfer of Waitress. But do not fear, Kinky Boots is currently strutting around the UK on tour so its not saying goodbye just yet! 

Bat Out of Hell | Final Performance on the 5th January 

After runs at the Manchester Opera House, the London Coliseum, Toronto and finally the West Ends Dominion Theatre, Bat Out of Hell will rock out for the last time on the 5th January. To make way for what I hear you ask? Well you'll have to wait and see. 

The Inheritance | Final Performance on the 19th January 

Playing a sold out run at the Young Vic earlier this year, this play has won the hearts of the theatre going public and has been monumental for gay writing. The closure of this play is to make room for the production of All About Eve before the much waited Broadway transfer of Dear Evan Hanson. 

Chicago | Final Performance on the 5th January 

Making this the fourth West End venue the musical has played (After the Adelphi, the Cambridge and the Garrick) we say goodbye to the musical again on the 5th January at the Phoenix Theatre to make way for the Broadway transfer of Come From Away. 

Dreamgirls | Final Performance on the 12th January 

After over two years in the West End, the Dreamgirls will be saying goodbye on the 12th January. There will be a soul spaced hole in the West End after its closure but will be replaced by the long over due production of 9 to 5. Turns out, Dreamgirls do leave you! 

42nd Street | Final Performance on the 5th January 

Just shy of two full years in one of the West Ends biggest houses, this production of 42nd Street will close on the 5th January to make way for some much needed refurbishment in the Theatre. What will replace it? Well, we here it might get a little colder in there! Lets hope they install some central heating. 

Snow White | Final Performance on the 13th January 

Now this show hasn't even opened yet, but we are so pumped to get into the Christmas mood so had to include this! Opening on the 12th December with a star cast, this show closes almost exactly a month later on the 13th January at the London Palladium. 


Friday, 24 August 2018

DREAM CASTING: 9 to 5 the Musical

Violet Newstead | Steph Parry 

Judy Bernly | Cassidy Janson 


Monday, 4 September 2017

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Eight years since the original Broadway production, 9 to 5 makes its UK Fringe premiere with a new production directed by Joseph Hodges. 

The story highlights the problems with equality in the work place, something we still are battling now. Perhaps not in the same way but it is still prominent in our society today. 

Patricia Resnicks book is hilarious, filled with dry humour and fluidity within the story it is a perfect match for the brilliant and fun score by Dolly Parton. I forgot how good this show actually is but by revisiting the material in this new production, it brought back all those memories of when I used to listen to the soundtrack on repeat!

Unfortunately this production fails to deliver any kind of interesting or new take on the show.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

15 Broadway musicals that should come to the West End

The West End has a bunch of musicals playing that have transferred over from Broadway including Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Pajama Game, The Book Of Mormon, Jersey Boys and Memphis to name a few. I look at some productions that have played on Broadway that should come to the West End... Take a look and see if you agree! Have I missed any? Tweet me the ones you'd like to see come to London! @PocketSizeBoy


Dreamgirls made its broadway premiere in late 1981 and closed on August 11 1985, after 1,521 performances. Around the time it was on Broadway a film version was in the works with names such as Whitney HoustonLauryn Hill and Kelly Price in the mix to star. However it didn't actually happen until  2006 with Jamie FoxxBeyoncĂ© KnowlesEddie MurphyDanny Glover and Jennifer Hudson starring. The production has never actually made it over to London. You'd think with the success of the film that it would be a perfect time to produce it. I'd love for this show to come to London, I think it would do pretty well and with the right creative team it could be incredible! 


Aida made its Broadway premiere in 2000, the show has music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and was produced by Disney. The show closed after 1,852 performances and two national tours followed.  The show has never been professionally performed in the UK, with the composers both originally from the UK its seems London would be a great place to bring the production to. The soundtrack is unbelievable and I am convinced the West End would be a perfect place for it. 


Wednesday, 2 January 2013

9 to 5 the Musical UK Tour: Theatre Review

9 to 5 the Musical is based on the 1980 film of the same name, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The film was adapted for stage, opening on Broadway in 2009. Parton, who wrote the title song of the original film, wrote the music and lyrics for the musical. The original production on Broadway closed after just 24 previews and 143 regular performances. However the musical didn’t just go away, it embarked on a US tour and last year came over to the UK and is currently touring the country. Set in the 1980s where the work place was a sexist place for women the show tells the story of three women Violet, Doralee and Judy who kidnap their horrible boss and give him a taste of his own medicine. They take over the office and show that just because you’re a women doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing anything a man can do.
I must say that the score of this show is brilliant, for Dolly’s first musical she’s really done a fantastic job and really seems to understand each one of the characters plus getting the musical theatre style spot on, adding her own style to it too. She’s written a song for Judy which comes near the end of the show called Get Out and Stay Out, any person who likes musical theatre would know this song already but this has to be my favourite musical theatre song of all time. Patricia Resnick has written a great script, the thing I love about the show is that it’s a modernised version of the story (obviously still set in the 80s) but it still stays so true to the original essence of the film.
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