Is it really 42 years ago?

In 1980, the film 9 to 5 was nominated for an Oscar for best song, for '9 to 5'. It lost to 'Fame', the title song from the film, Fame. Fame had a second contender for best song that year, 'Out Here On My Own'. Like 9 to 5, Fame became a stage musical.

The two other nominees that year were 'People Alone' from The Competition and 'On The Road Again' from Honeysuckle Rose. Both those films starred Amy Irving. Neither film has evolved into a stage musical. Blessed be.

So the song didn’t win the Oscar and the snub sat simmering in Dolly Parton’s head and finally the stage show took shape. The same old story but with brand spanking new songs, spanking being the operative word due to a proclivity to ticklers, ties and toys. 

For the un-discerning in the thrall of a the ear worm title song, 9 to 5 will suffice as a sinuous and twisted fondle of the nostalgia zone. More Twee Too than Me Too, 9 to 5 takes us on a great leap backward, a throwback attack on the atavism of toxic masculinity under the camouflage of lilting lyric and toe tapping tunes.

Frilly, flimsy and flippant, focusing on frivolity,  the serious business of office politics, gender pay equality, sexual harassment and glass ceilings becomes an elusive facet. In 9 to 5,  the analyses of the social problems that encircle, create and propagate personal problems is touched upon, but its presented to a passive audience. No preaching necessary for the converted are the congregation.

Marina Prior, Casey Donovan and Erin Clare are accomplished as the three leads and Eddie Perfect as their imperfect boss and Caroline O’Connor as his secretary are overwhelmingly quaint with awkward Carry On comedy. There’s more mugging going on on stage than Central Park during the 80’s!

The performers are fine from leads to swing but 9 to 5 is painting by numbers. Ballet and chorus girls seem oddly out of place and contradictory in this play about toxic male work place.

Event details

John Frost for Crossroads Live, Suzanne Jones and The Ambassador Theatre Group
9 to 5 – The Musical
score Dolly Parton | book Patricia Resnick

Director Jeff Calhoun

Venue: Capitol Theatre | 13 Campbell St, Haymarket NSW
Dates: until 1 May, 2022

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