Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dolly Parton - 9 To 5 The Musical -Review- Sunderland Empire

Today another guest reviewer in the form of Dickie Briggs. I met Dickie when appearing in Allo Allo at the Customs House recently. Always full of life and vitality. 
Dickie like me has a huge passion for Musical Theatre.
He will definitely be reviewing for me again..!!
Dolly Parton - 9 To 5 The Musical
29th October 2012
Everyone even people of my generation knows this song. It's one of Dolly Parton's most famous songs, and is the title track to the film of the same name in which she starred, alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.  The telling the tale of three very different, but very powerful women who work for the boss from Hell.

Doralee Rhodes, Violet Newstead, & Judy Bernly  (Amy Lennox, Jackie Clune and Natalie Casey). Violet is expecting to be promoted, however this doesn't happen as the misogynist of a boss promotes a man who she trained over her. Doralee happily married, who is buxom, overly made up, and 'beautiful' is the object of Franklin Hart Jnr lascivious advances, he's always dropping pencils and getting her to reach for files at the top of the shelf in order to put his beady eyes on her very ample assets, also he has spread the rumour that they are having an affair, causing distaste among her peers which causes them to shun her initially, even the timid Judy, who is a new member of the team, who has taken a job here after her aptly name husband Dick (umbrage slightly taken) has sloped off with his secretary Mindi (with an I). It all comes to a head after he has embarrassed Judy too many times, not promoted Violet and harassed Doralee too many times. Eventually they seek their revenge on their boss, Violet is promoted, Judy is happy, and Doralee becomes a country and western singer (go figure) 

The show itself is host to a score of amazing songs, that are catchy, and are old school musical in a way, and are a credit to Dolly Parton. The title song is still in place but with a few extra bits, and a bit of a reworking to get that camp music feel to it which has taken nothing from the joy that this song. One song in particular that I found really poignant was "Backwoods Barbie" which to me was like Dolly Parton reaching out to the audience to air her grievances about the people who have misjudged her for the way she looks. The lyrics were good and all the performances, ensemble and dancers were fascinating to watch.

While I must say that I did not dislike any of the performances given in the show one particular joy to watch was Natalie Casey. I was expecting her to be good, but she was just a joy. She was so funny, and her voice is totally amazing, she was one of the strongest performers I have seen in a while, and the mixture of her and Jackie Clune and Amy Lennox (who I'm sorry to say this because I adore Dolly Parton, was even better than Parton herself as Doralee). I just adore her voice and I would go again to watch the show on the strength of this beautiful lady. 

One of my particular favourite scenes where these three ladies showed their greatness as performers was during a scene where each of them acted out their own revenge upon Franklin Hart Jnr, which comic timing that is invaluable to any actor, made my sides sore with laughter as well as the hilarious scene in the hospital where they were trying to "act normal" in the face of maybe having killed their boss. Jackie Clune was delightful as Violet and certainly did Lily Tomlin proud, she commanded the stage and you really felt angry along with her. She give a stellar performance in "One of the Boys" nice and camp and typically musical. Nice work Jackie. 

Amy Lennox as Doralee, who I just loved, was good and as I mentioned previously give Dolly Parton a run for her money. With Doralee you get the laughs but you also get the vibes of a sincere person beneath the eyeliner and lashes, and while we can all laugh along with her, what Amy gives us is that sense that this is a girl who is also keen to be taken seriously as a human being despite a 'Barbie'. 

Ben Richards as Franklin Hart Jnr, also gave another one of the productions stellar performances, totally detestable with his lascivious manner, and the way that he tries to blackmail and scaremonger the three heroines of the story, you almost wished that Violet had put the poison in his drink, and while at one point I was worried about Ben as he dangled from the ropes in the bedroom scene and spun around quite a fair few times, he was fine and managed to walk straight through the rest of the performance. 

This review would not be complete without mention the theatre stalwart that is Bonnie Langford, playing the Secretary who is completely in love with Franklin, she got a rousing laugh when she stripped off to a corset and suspenders, and danced a raunchy tango with an 'imaginary' Franklin, and her performance did add more comedy to the production

Overall this was a brilliant production, well written and well performed; the band, the cast and the crew were all perfect and I could not have had a better time at the theatre. This has to be one of the best shows that I have seen in quite a while and I suggest that you go and see it if you can.  
Dolly Parton- 9 to 5 The Musical runs until  3rd November. 
Richard 'Dickie' Briggs

Dickie Briggs, an aspiring novelist who grew up in Washington, Tyne and Wear, who is currently working on his debut novel "Bad Romance' has always been surrounded by the joys of the theatrical world including Amateur (in which his parents were actively involved both as acting and committee members) and Professional. He enjoys an eclectic taste in shows, and while at University in Liverpool, studying for his degree in drama and English, he also experience some of Liverpool finest Avant Garde theatre, as well still attending his beloved musicals. When not working on his novel, or blogging at richardbriggsblog.blogspot.com, he can usually be found in South Shields where he helps out backstage in the Customs House with Amateur Performances.  Dickie loves hearing from people who enjoy theatre, so do follow his blog, where you will also be able to find links to his Facebook Page and his Twitter.

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