REVIEW – 9 to 5, Sunderland Empire

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I WASN’T sure brand spanking new musical 9 to 5 was going to be my cup of tea, but it turned out to be the kind of show I think I could enjoy time and time again.

Toe-tappingly good tunes: check. Witty one-liners: check. Top-notch acting: check. This show had it all.

Queen of Country Dolly Parton, who starred in the 1980 film and penned the musical’s score, sets the scene, appearing on a giant clock face like a pneumatic fairy godmother, sprinkling the show with wit and charm.

It was a difficult task stepping into the icon’s stilettos for the role of Doralee, but Amy Lennox was exceptional throughout.

She had one of the best musical theatre voices I’ve heard this year and her comic timing was practically perfect in every way.

But this was a show spoilt with standout performances. Jackie Clune as Violet was a strong matriarchal figure at the helm of a trio of office workers who attempt to cut their sexist boss down to size.

Meanwhile, former Hollyoaks actress Natalie Casey was hilariously adorable as downtrodden divorcée Judy.

Bonnie Langford wowed as a super lithe Roz Keith who slinks around their delightfully devilish boss Franklyn, played with aplomb by Ben Richards, in a bid to melt Hart’s stone cold heart.

The trio’s bond is one you can’t help but believe in, helped along by Parton’s lyrics which pack an emotional punch.

Highlights included the title track, of course, but also new tracks such as Backwoods Barbie which has got future classic written all over it. And Natalie’s utterly heart-wrenching rendition of Get Out and Stay Out almost had me reaching for the tissues - a rare feat for a musical.

Katy Wheeler