The glitz and glamour of country queen Dolly Parton brightened up dark December nights in Hulme as her engaging musical 9 To 5 was brought to the stage in spectacular fashion by Director Danny Price’s large and enthusiastic cast of talented actors, singers and dancers. Ostensibly a simple morality tale of good triumphing over evil, 9 To 5 manages to incorporate themes dealing with sexual harassment, gender equality and the empowerment of women, all treated with wit, humour and, of course, great musicality. Indeed, it is a feature of 9 To 5 that the musical numbers reflect the considerable talents of the estimable Ms Parton.
Packed houses over three nights enjoyed Maria Collins’ stand out performance as the feisty Violet, convincing and believable in the role, showing great comic timing and handling her vocals superbly. Eve Reynolds, as Judy, blossomed from bungling, tearful new girl to assertive, emancipated young woman, whilst Jodie Hitchin, as Doralee, got the chance to wear the big platinum wig and try out the southern accent, as the deceptively naïve country girl. Edwyn Stanyer, bearing more than a passing resemblance to a certain Mr D. Trump in manner, and even appearance, was a perfect fall guy villain, sleazy and patronising in his office full of women, with Lizzie Cross-Spooner as Roz, his not so secret admirer, hilariously flirtatious in the delivery of her solo number. Sean Baker looked suitably love sick as good guy Joe, pursuing, and eventually capturing, the heart of Violet, and was particularly effective in his duet with her.
Aside from the individual performances of the ‘leads’ the success or otherwise of the show depends on the quality of the ensemble work and here the production delivered in spades. Assistant Director and Choreographer Pippa Hudson, ably assisted by Jade McGovern, ensured that the large cast zipped around the stage with energy and zest, and that the dance routines were slick and professional.
Dolly Parton is primarily a country artist but has been around the music scene long enough to recognise what makes a good song; she is skilled enough to write in a variety of styles and the cast, aided by voice captain Georgia Goldsbrough, coped admirably with the demands of the songs. This would not have been possible, of course, without the magnificent support of David Lloyd-Mostyn’s house band, comprising Caitlin Schaffer on guitar, Maeve McGovern on bass, Milana Bout and Sophie Rawlings on reeds, Hannah Beech on trumpet, James McEnteggart on drums, and David and Adam Rowe on keyboards. Tony Fennell and Ian Jones made sure that the actors were not distracted by technical issues, and with a resounding rendition of the famous title song, a thoroughly enjoyable, feel good evening came to a close.