Theatre Review: 9 To 5 The Musical Brings Dolly Parton To The West End

9 To 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre ★★★★☆

Theatre Review: 9 To 5 The Musical Brings Dolly Parton To The West End 9 To 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre 4
Photo: Craig Sugden

Here you come again, but this time as a dazzling stage musical. Listen carefully, you can hear the sound of extreme-hold hairspray cans being set off all over town by Generation Xers, preparing to flock to watch the musical version of 9 to 5.

It's got Dolly Parton's fabulous fingerprints all over it: the big wigs, cheeky lines and catchy songs (not surprising, she composed it). The woman herself also opens the show from inside a giant clock, and from now we're petitioning for Big Ben's face to be replaced likewise.

It's brave to tackle this hot potato in the form of a musical; how do you integrate humour, 80s cultural references and light-weight musical theatre into a story about sexual harassment, women's empowerment and equal pay without causing offence? At first we were uncomfortable watching Brian Conley's character perform a tongue-in-cheek love song while attempting to upskirt and fondle his secretary. However, as the show goes on, it becomes more palatable; cleverly dropping slights about modern day politics into the script and then unashamedly spelling out Dolly-style moral teachings. It's hard not to cheer along with and feel slightly inspired by this sparkling (if a bit crude) portrayal of feminism.

All the actors are extremely watchable (particularly Dolly's character, Natalie McQueen), but the show-stealers were, unsurprisingly, stage veterans Brian Conley and Bonnie Langford. Perfectly cast, over-actor Conley embodies the horrible, sexist, chauvinist boss while Langford puts all the younger cast to shame with a saucy performance fit for a 20-year-old.

The show had some teething problems at first, with Louise Redknapp dropping out from injury early on, but it's back with a bang. We're off to Dollywood, who's coming?

9 to 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre, Savoy Court, WC2R 0ET, from £20. Until 31 August

Last Updated 05 March 2019