Wednesday 20 March 2019

Timeless and infectious fun in '9 to 5' musical

Keith Flanagan as Hart and Jennifer White as Doralee
Keith Flanagan as Hart and Jennifer White as Doralee
Teresa Buckley as Violet and Keith Flanagan as Hart
The cast of the musical 9 to 5 by St Michael’s Theatre Musical Society
Ashley Doran as Judy

David Looby

The pure escapism and fun of a great musical was enjoyed by more than one thousand people at St Michael's Theatre Musical Society's infectiously hilarious take on 9 to 5, the Dolly Parton musical.

The country star with a big personality even made a few guest appearances during the shows (on a large screen positioned over the stage), which ran for five nights from Tuesday till Saturday to large audiences.

Directed by Kevin Kennedy, with musical direction by Philip Kennedy and choreography by Claire Kickham, the musical comedy which is based on the 1980 movie, had it all, from fantastic dance routines, to wonderful comic set pieces and a generous smattering of silliness and bawdy fun.

The uplifting and fun-filled theatrical musical tells the story of Violet Newstead, Judy Bernly and Doralee Rhodes, three colleagues working under the supervision of their sleazy boss Franklin Hart Jr. As their friendship strengthens through adversity, the girls concoct a scheme to kidnap Hart and take control of the office, implementing a series of new innovative office policies and transforming their workplace into a better place to work. Here, slap bang in the middle of this male dominated late 70s American society, the storyline gets a modern reboot, with a slight nod to the MeToo movement.

Starring Teresa Buckley as Violet, Ashley Doran as Judy and Jennifer White as Doralee, with Keith Flanagan as Franklin Hart Jr. and an ensemble cast including Julie Kinsella, Michael Benson, Phil Erskine, Owen Cullnane, Edward O'Dowd and Brid Moloney, the acting was excellent throughout and not a beat was missed in the pit below where a large orchestra offered up exuberant hit after hit.

White, with her saccharin sweet American accent, served up a believable Dolly Parton, and she had the crowd enthralled, (and in stitches), when she lost it with her hands on boss. The orchestra, conducted by Philip Kennedy, offered everything from zippy pop confections to woozy, mysterious songs. Flanagan was fantastic as the over-sexed boss who eventually gets found out and is left hanging, literally, by the three women he bullied, harassed, ogled and assaulted at work. White, with her high heels and low cut tops, had an excellent supporting cast of hilarious characters which kept the plot bobbing along nicely.

Teresa Buckley was a powerhouse and Ashley Doran excelled in her role as the divorcee who finds her strength, with a little help from some colleagues, in the cut and thrust of a cut-throat office, where the narcissistic Hart's preening secretary is always within spying distance.

The breadth of talent on display was something to behold from close quarters.

There were too many laugh out loud moments to mention in these column inches, but by the end the crowds were stomping their feet in time to the music and up dancing even for the final numbers. Packed with big chorus numbers, wonderful ensemble pieces and provocative solos, '9 to 5' was a blast. The script, at turns witty, funny, sad and risqué, had the audience in stitches, while the set looked straight out of the 1970s with its pastel kaleidoscope of colours. The style is also reminiscent of the era. The particularity of vision and detail of the entire show was impressive, as was the dense and wonderful music.

Sparkling performances from a fantastic ensemble cast made this a very creditable, fun and hilarious night's entertainment from the award winning musical group.

New Ross Standard