9 to 5 The Musical
- Gareth K Vile
- 11 October 2019
This article is from 2019
Dolly Parton's feminist musical spectacle
Although Patricia Resnick – author of the film and its musical adaptation – recognises that feminism has been re-energised in the past decade, 9 to 5 still revels in its 1980s setting, humour and philosophy. With the cast dressed in that decade's distinctive styles (power suits et al), the score evoking a fascination with light rock, and its three heroines exacting revenge on a male chauvinist pig, it majors in retro-chic even as it offers a version of feminist triumph.
From the title song to more thoughtful meditations on identity and desire, Dolly Parton's music ensures that the audience gets involved, and that the cast (especially Louise Redknapp, Amber Davies and Georgina Castle who play the women resisting their boss' sexism) get solo showstoppers alongside well-choreographed and dynamic ensemble numbers. While the plot is straight-forward, Resnick's script allows all of the characters their own development and story arc. If the resolution of the feminist uprising is a little easy, with some unpleasant undertones, the sheer bravura of the musical numbers pushes home a message of empowerment.
A rumoured sequel to the film promises more rounded and contemporary feminism, but here the humour and finale ignore the fine detail for a brash, celebratory vibe, retaining a little too much of the 80s crass simplicity. However, it remains a lively night out, has a sentimental and moral heart, and nicely balances the demands of a popular musical and a more thoughtful glance back at a time when feminism was articulating its presence in business.
Seen at King's Theatre, Glasgow. Edinburgh Playhouse, Tue 12–Sat 16 Nov.