Review: 9 to 5: The Musical, Harrogate Theatre

Ripon Amateur Operatic Society in 9 to 5 The Musical
Ripon Amateur Operatic Society in 9 to 5 The Musical

9 to 5: The Musical is based on the 1980 film of the same name, with music and lyrics by country and western icon Dolly Parton.

It was her image as narrator that loomed over the stage at the start of Ripon Operatic Society’s latest production.

The cast, ensemble and choir provided a seamless performance.

Workers scurried around a suitably drab set singing the title number as they prepared for yet another gruelling day at Consolidated Industries.

The brisk and intricate dance routine with clipboards that followed must have taken a good deal of rehearsing.

Khal Shahjahan clearly relished his role as Franklin Hart Jr, their domineering and lecherous monster of a boss, and played it to great comic effect.

The object of his lust was blonde, buxom Doralee, appalled when he led her colleagues to assume that she was his mistress.

Laura Jackson’s powerful rendition of Backwoods Barbie left no doubt of her desire to be recognised as more than a pretty face.

Another woman with an axe to grind was Michelle Rundle’s highly efficient Violet, repeatedly passed over for promotion.

New employee Judy, unskilled and desperate, was convincingly played by Laura Wheatley. The clacking of manual typewriters was a nice touch to fix the period and accompany the office politics.

Hart’s fate was sealed from the moment Doralee, Violet and Judy became friends. Their sharing of a joint inspired a series of murderous fantasies about the boss they all loathed.

Judy led a group of femmes fatales in red and black, Doralee starred in a rodeo and – my personal favourite – Violet morphed into a deranged Snow White, backed up by a host of fairytale characters.

Panic ensued the next day when Violet thought that she really had poisoned her boss.

In a role by turns comic and poignant, Vanessa Horwell as office nark Roz, her unrequited love eloquently expressed in the song Heart to Hart, persuaded him to play along and threaten to call the police.

Not reckoning with feisty Doralee’s prompt action in threatening him with a gun, he ended up trussed like a turkey in his own home, his wife being conveniently away on holiday.

The friends found evidence of his crooked accounting and brought in better working conditions, only for Hart to escape. All seemed lost when Albert Day’s Mr Tinsworthy, CEO of Consolidated Industries, gave him all the credit for the improvements, but this rebounded in a delightful twist.

9 to 5 is a show dominated by strong female characters, but I should like to give a special mention to William Thirlaway’s junior accountant Joe.

His pursuit of Violet never flagged and I particularly enjoyed their duet Let Love Grow.

There was also a memorable moment for Judy’s repentant ex-husband Dick (Steve Hibbs) shortly before he was given his marching orders. Without giving the game away, I shall just say that his misinterpretation of what he saw in Hart’s bedroom was hilarious.

There was great joie de vivre throughout the performance, in which the music directed by Phil Redding once again complemented the spirited choreography and direction of Phill Ruddy.

A great many people were involved in the production, both on and off stage, and all are to be congratulated on yet another memorable show.

It runs at Harrogate Theatre until Saturday.

Tickets: 01423 502 116.