Having performed this musical myself last year, Ellesmere Port Musical Theatre Company had a challenge on their hands when I came to review their most recent production of ‘9 to 5’ as I knew every song, line and harmony inside out. Luckily for me, my high expectations were well satisfied and I left the theatre feeling elated from the nostalgia and talent I saw during this wonderful production.
‘9 to 5’ tells the story of three office secretaries who take matters into their own hands after being ill-treated for too long by their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss Franklyn Hart Jnr (Gareth Earl). Violet (Liz Legerton) is exasperated as she continually loses her deserving promotions to less qualified men, while Judy (Sara Haynes) is trying to mend her broken heart by entering the world of work for the first time in her life. Meanwhile, Doralee (Ciera Evans) is outraged after finding out that Hart has been spreading vicious rumors that they have been having an affair and the whole office believes it! These three cunning ladies team up to discuss their disgust but when the opportunity arises, they give the boss a taste of his own medicine, which leads to lots of comical brilliance and over the top drama for the audience to enjoy.
The three leading ladies gave stellar performances. Legerton was powerful as she played Violet with commanding perfection whilst also showing softer, fun qualities during ‘one of the boys’. Hayne’s was wonderfully ditty and endearing as she executed her comedic dialogue with grace and goose bumps arrived when we were treated to her stunning vocals in “I just might”. Similarly, Evans has a beautiful quality and effortless tone to her voice that was apparent throughout the show as she embraced the character and country style with ease. When these three ladies came together vocally, their strength was immense and the sound was absolutely gorgeous - a personal highlight for me.
Earl was fantastic and believable as we were absorbed into his sickening and nasty ways from the onset during his brilliant rendition of “Here for you”. Feeling suitably repulsed and intrigued, the audience were left wondering how this fascinating character was going to be stopped. Two other noteworthy performances came from Roz (Hayley Dale) and Joe (Kortez Lopez). The audience fell in love with Roz who was brave, bold and hilarious. Dale’s interpretation was very entertaining to the point where you loved to see her come on stage. Lopez created a very likable character in Joe and made a big impact with his small role which was both enjoyable and amusing to watch.
I felt that the first scene was a little flat and needed more energy. First night nerves were apparent among the chorus which I could see on their faces as they forgot to sing or wore a frown while concentrating on dance moves. I felt some of the choreography could have been slicker during the big numbers. However, this was not always the case as ‘around here’ and ‘one of the boys’ showcased more dance abilities and the exciting vibrancy within this company (Pam Watson). A special mention goes to Amelia Douggie, whose stage presence stood out a mile. With a talent that projects far into the audience, she is definitely one to watch!
The musicality in this show was spectacular through meticulous musical direction from Craig Price. From the solo numbers to the chorus harmonies, the sound was phenomenal, with credit to the eleven piece orchestra who sounded flawless throughout. And the set – wow! The elevator, the toilet, the backdrops for cowgirls revenge, the list is endless and very impressive (Scenic Projects). Further complimented by the authentic costumes which brought us right back to the 70s (Sasha Edge, Julie Rooney, Donna Dale).
Overall the talent within this company is first class and their professionalism is something to be proud of. Congratulations to director Donna Dale and assistant director Damian Riverol their wonderfully clever vision which created the success that is Ellesmere Port Musical Theatre Company’s 9 to 5. Their hard work and dedication resulted in a fabulous, feel-good show which I would urge you to go see!
9 to 5 continues 14th – 16th September 2017 http://bit.ly/2wfbjgR
Reviewer: Blathine Maguire
Reviewed: 14th September 2017