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Review - 9 to 5: The Musical: spectacular in every way

By Liv Wilson

9 t0 5: The Musical

Directed by Jeff Calhoun

Choreographed by Lisa Steven

Costume and Set by Tom Rogers

Musically Directed by James Simpson

Presented by Dolly Parton

Produced by John Frost for Crossroads Live, Suzanne Jones and The Ambassador Theatre Group

Lyric Theatre


South Bank


Season: from June 1st until July 2nd Tickets starting from $69 and available through QPAC’s booking site.

9 to 5: The Musical tells the story of Doralee, Violet and Judy, three enterprising workmates pushed to the edge by their mean-spirited boss Franklin Hart Jnr. Resorting to wit, comradery and cunning, they dream up a no holds barred scheme to turn the tables on their controlling supervisor in the most hilariously defiant of ways. Only question is, will the feisty trio manage to change the office culture to reach their full potential or will events unravel when the Chairman pays an unexpected visit?

Crossroads Live Australia’s production of 9 to 5: The Musical was utterly spectacular in every way. As soon as the famous intro to Dolly Parton’s hit song ‘9 to 5’ rang through the Lyric Theatre the audience buzzed and we all knew we were in for a treat. This flawless production showcased some of the highest quality vocals, choreography and set design that I have seen in Australia.

Director Jeff Calhoun masterfully directed the show with the perfect amount of ‘80’s cheese’ whilst still showing sensitivity to the very real, relatable and current issues on the table. Pulling out all the best stops with this show, Calhoun’s seasoned and respected directorial style was showcased beautifully here.

The all-star Australian cast featured Marina Prior as the smart & sassy career-driven woman Violet Newstead, Casey Donovan as the recently separated new recruit Judy Bernly, Erin Clare as the bright & beautiful country gal Doralee Rhodes. Rounding out the main cast was Eddie Perfect as the sleazy and controlling boss Franklin Hart Jnr. and Caroline O’Connor as busy-body Roz Keith.

Marina Prior was stunning as Violet Newstead and put just the right amount of feminist drive into the role. While Prior is typically known for her angelic vocals I was blown away with how well her comedic timing held up during the show. A role like Violet leaves you with nowhere to hide and Prior was on point all night reminding Brisbane exactly why she’s an Australian theater legend.

Erin Clare nailed her characterisation of Doralee and wowed the audience with her perfect Southern drawl and country-Barbie charm. Clare arguably had the toughest role of the night stepping into the shoes of Dolly Parton; however she completely surpassed my expectations of the characterisation and became a crowd favourite instantly. Backwood Barbie was a perfect showcase of Clare’s naturally charming acting while drawing on Parton’s unmistakable tone for the vocals.

Undoubtedly the stand out of the night was Casey Donovan with her lovable, quirky characterisation and stunning vocals. From the moment she sang her first line in the opening number the audience was invested in her character. Her relatable portrayal of the ‘chewed up and spat out’ single gal was perfectly captured in her shining moment in Act Two where her character reaches an emotional turning point during the song, ‘Get Out and Stay Out’. Between her moving vocals and masterful acting Donovan deservedly brought the audience to their feet with a standing ovation.

Eddie Perfect as the sleazy and corrupt Franklin Hart Jnr. was totally unlikable in all the right ways. He had the audience in stitches and while Perfect’s talent is unmistaken he managed to personify the “boys-club-attitude '' in a way that made it very easy to back up the girls on their mission to put an end to his bigoted ways. Perfect was a crowd favourite and specifically peaked everyone’s interest in his performance of ‘Always A Woman’. You’re going to have to get along to the show to see what I mean, I’ll leave the details ‘up in the air’ to not spoil a hilarious part of the show!

If anyone was born for a role it was Caroline O’Connor as Roz Keith. The comedic timing, the hilarity of her infatuation for Hart Jnr. and her world class vocals were simply exquisite. O’Connor had the audience in the palm of her hand during ‘Heart to Hart’ which was a major crowd pleaser. In my opinion O’Connor gave a masterclass in all things musical theatre and single-handedly was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the show.

The ensemble was second to none, with individual talent and group work wildly impressive. Standout moments from Ethan Jones as Joe, Madeleine Mackenzie as Margaret, Ben Gillespie in various roles and Jay Johns as Bob didn’t go unnoticed and these performers each had moments that easily made my ‘highlights reel’ on the drive home.

I was continually impressed with the level of intricacy in Lisa Stevens choreography and blown away with the level of male ensemble talent in this show. You don’t often see male dancers being featured, let alone stealing the show in several ensemble numbers. I can’t commend Stevens enough on her wonderfully thoughtful choreography.

Tom Roger’s costume and set design were cleverly showcased all the right nuances of the late 80’s without overdoing it or becoming cheesy. The multimedia screen on the back wall lent itself to establishing scenes and the bright costumes were perfectly designed for each character. This element of the show could have been a make or break moment and Roger’s expertise in design completely made the entire experience one to remember.

Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: The Musical should be on everyone’s radar. This high quality production packs a punch and is ultra-relatable for those who believe in the strength of female solidarity. Whether you’re a fan of the movie or someone who wants another reason to hate on a sleaze-bag boss, this is the perfect show to stumble outta bed for!


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