WITHAM AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY
“9 to 5 “ The Musical
Director Nikki Mundell-Poole
Musical Director James Tovey
Choreographer Nikki Mundell- Poole Performed at Witham Public Hall 28th October 2017
This show is a musical version of the movie of the same name with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and premiered in Los Angeles in 2008. A national tour followed in the US in 2010 followed by a UK premiere in 2012 and just this year has a new production as part of a fringe festival in the UK.
Witham AOS gave this production a bright breezy feel with a large cast of Principals, Dancers, Dancing Chorus and Ensemble. An introduction on screen by Dolly Parton set the scene for a thought provoking show.
The ladies figured mainly in this production, and all were very well cast, with Matilda Bourne as Judy the new member of staff, Diana Easton as Violet a force to be reckoned with when her promotion was at risk, Sarah Miles as Doralee the office glamour girl, and Rhianna Howard as Roz, totally devoted to Franklin Hart as his PA.
All these ladies made their characters so personal and different from the office which was excellent; all with strong and tuneful singing voices. I felt they all took command of the story line so well.
Although very much a show featuring the ladies we had some very competent lead gentlemen in a variety of characters from Niels Bradley as Franklin Hart Jnr, the boss of Consolidated Industries, with a rather keen eye for the ladies. Niels played this character very well and seemed at ease despite the many antics and situations which unfolded throughout the performance.
Dannii Carr as Joe, an employee of the company, was very competent in his role, and in his duet with Violet had a very pleasing singing voice. Both were good on the harmonies and gave a really enjoyable performance.
I liked Emma Loring’s Margaret, rather fond of a drink or three, and a delightful, dizzy lady.
There were many cameo roles in this production, many were the factory staff where most of the scenes were staged.
All the chorus numbers were very well sung with lots of harmonies coming through which I always enjoy. At times the band were a little loud, however with MD James Tovey good tempi were maintained and the soloists were well supported. A very vital contribution to this production is to keep all the sung numbers going well.
There was little scenery, but with various pieces of furniture and good stage curtains it all worked very well. The dancing was excellent with the whole cast at times involved in some enjoyable and energetic routines. Good lighting also enhanced the routines.
This was another well-directed production from Nikki Mundell- Poole who gets a company very involved in the overall results.
9 TO 5
at the Public Hall, Witham
A nostalgic journey back to 1979, nicely suggested in Witham by shades of brown and beige, with splendid hair and moustaches for the men, the villains in this vaguely feminist fairy tale.
This is “the Dolly Parton musical”; not a juke box selection of her greatest hits, but the play what she wrote, nearly ten years ago now, based on the 1980 film in which she starred with Jane Fonda.
She stars in this too – as a virtual presence, a one-woman Greek chorus projected behind the action – and vicariously as the Backwoods Barbie “too much make-up, too much hair”, played for WAOS by Sarah Miles. A very enjoyable performance, matched by the three other principal ladies – Matilda Bourne’s Judy, the new kid on the office block, Diana Easton’s Violet, a fine comedy presence and a polished vocalist, and Rhianna Howard’s excellent Roz, who’s besotted with the MCP boss of Consolidated, Franklin Hart Jr [Niels Bradley]. Emma Loring is the “old lush” Missy, and Dannii Carr the noble accountant who finally finds happiness with Violet.
“Glitchy” was the word in the interval bar: cues missed, lines fumbled, a recalcitrant harness. The big production numbers – One of the Boys, Heart to Hart, with the chorus in the aisles – worked well, but too often the songs were left to work their magic on an empty stage.
Nikki Mundell-Poole’s production has some fine dancing, and the fantasy sequences work well. James Tovey, the Musical Director, brings some so-so numbers to life – he has a convincing show-band in the Witham pit.
Had the show been done in the 70s – when the much missed Brigadoon was still thought a good night out – we could have expected similar tired cloths and wobbly flats. But no sound system pumping out the decibels, which might have resulted in a better band/vocal balance, allowing us to hear more of Ms Parton’s lyrics.
“9 to 5 – The Musical”, Witham Amateur Operatic Society
(by Guest Reviewer – Christine Davidson)
For October WAOS gave us the feel good production of 9 to 5. Written by Patricia Resnick with Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton, this production opened with the famous 9 to 5 number to represent a bustling day at the office of Consolidated Industries. This had the nearly full house audience tapping their toes from the very start of the show. The production is based on the film in 1980 which starred Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda; it portrays three women who take on the horrendous and chauvinistic boss, Franklin Hart Jr, who ultimately gets his comeuppance.
Great wigs from the talented Patsy Page gave us the 70’s feel and the costumes were fab. Scenes were set by painted stage cloths and a raised area was included upstage to complete the set, simple but effective. Although sometimes maybe just a few too many of the chorus were on stage especially during the first scene when some were squashed in the wings.
The country and western songs were easy on the ears, accompanied by a fine, and well-honed orchestra ably conducted by the musical director James Tovey. He really did bring each of the songs to life even if some were somewhat unmemorable. A strong ensemble is vital for high-energy shows which have continuous movement, dancing and singing. This was certainly evident throughout this production.
The show had good female leads, with strong acting and singing from all of them that really kept the show going. I truly loved the emotion and strength of character of each of these ladies, who showed that you can act in a musical and be believed.
Matilda Bourne was Judy whose husband had left her for a younger model; she had never worked in an office in her life. Moving from shy and awkward to a confident strong woman during the show her solos of ‘Get out and stay out’, with crystal clear voice and her ‘Dance of Death’ in her sexy black sequined dress were great fun.
Diana Easton as Violet, who wants to be more than an Office Supervisor, was confident, expressive, her timing was excellent. The lynch pin of the three ladies she commanded the stage and her strong acting abilities meant that she was very believable. Her rendition of ‘One of the Boys’, with the male ensemble, was impressive and the duet ‘Let Love Grow’ another charming number.
Sarah Miles as Doralee, the feisty Dolly Parton look alike, sung the country and western songs with great ease. Not only did Sarah look, and act, the part of a country girl but she sang beautifully and had a terrific Southern accent. Her songs ‘Backwoods Barbie’ solo and ‘Cowgirl’s Revenge’ stood out. All three were really on top of their game in this production. The fantasy sequence where the three ladies imagine themselves either as a femme fatale, a rodeo star, or Snow White, was totally hilarious and executed with great pace and excellent choreography. I loved the puppets in this scene which added to the fun of it all.
An excellent Roz, the long suffering assistant to Franklin Hart Jr, was played with relish and great comedy timing by Rhianna Howard. Her song ‘Heart to Hart’ was a great number. Roz was besotted with the boss, the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot (quote from show) played with great effect by Niels Bradley. He gave us a villain that you loved to boo and hiss. He also had a nice line in John Travolta dancing as well as singing with power and the right amount of arrogance.
Emma Loring as the drunk at work had a very infectious giggle and was a pleasure to watch while Danni Carr, the accountant in love with Violet, had a wonderful voice and stage presence. I would love to see more from him in future productions.
Lighting was slightly disappointing. Low level lighting at front stage left and right, on occasions, meant that cast were lost in the gloom. On stage LED colour mixing could have been given greater thought, which was a shame, as this quality production deserved more. The projection of Dolly Parton was fun, seen on a video screen, at the back of the stage to welcome people to the performance but sometimes it was hard to hear what was being said. Occasionally sound balance was a problem, particularly when the orchestra were louder than the singers, causing a few songs to be difficult to hear but I think that this was a technical problem which should have been sorted out pre-show.
Hard working, confident director Nikki Mundell-Poole’s production has some fine dancing, and the fantasy sequences work well. Great team work from the whole cast who showed from the very start just how much they were enjoying each of their roles.
An excellent feel good show that sent the audience out singing 9 to 5 as they left the theatre. Congratulations to all for a good night out.