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Review: 9 to 5, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Can this musical comedy about chauvinism and sexually predatory bosses starring Louise Redknapp be funny in the wake of #MeToo? Muddy takes her 14 year old daughter to find out

Here’s a musical to shine an warming light on your rain-soaked week. I went to the first night of 9 to 5: The Musical at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre yesterday and it was just the tonic I needed after a crazy day at work.

We all know the classic 1980 movie starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. It took nearly 30 years to reboot it as a musical Broadway and unbelievably only made it to the West End in 2019, starring Louise Rednapp as the Tomlin role of Violet Newstead.

Admittedly this isn’t a ‘stretch’ role for Rednapp – she plays a foxy middle aged single working mother, but her voice is stronger than I remember it in Eternal, she clearly knows the role inside and out, and given Violet is the least interesting character of the three female protaganists, Redknapp does a good job of holding her own.

The well worn story of three plucky, efficient, empathetic female office workers kidnapping their chauvanistic, sexually predatory boss and running the company waaaaay better tows a careful line – it’s funny, not political and is absolutely played for laughs, with Sean Needham as boss Franklin Hart Junior my favourite actor of the night; there were times in the first half of the show when I was nearly crying with laughter at his pathetic, sexual manouevres. Julia J Nagle as pedantic memo-loving office manager Roz Keith also showed great comic timing.

This is a production that definitely has a depth of talent in the cast – everyone had super-strong vocals – Vivian Panka as the mousy Judy Bernly was pehraps the most replete in terms of matching effortless singing with some sensitive acting. Costumes were fabulous – an early Eighties smorgasbord of horrific Maggie Thatcher style wiggage and power suits. The dance routines were slick, tightly choreographed and full of energy. (I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in regional touring companies compared to a few years back).

I took my 14 year old daughter with me and, to be honest, on a wet Tuesday night after a day at school she wasn’t massively keen to go. By the end of the show she was clapping enthusiastically to the standing ovation and actually THANKED ME for taking her (like, *thud*). So I’d say it’s definitely one your teens will enjoy, and with the charismatic Needham playing it for laughs, I reckon the men in your life will feel the love too.

9 to 5 moves on after coming this Saturday night, so if you manage to get there let me know what you think!

Tickets from £13. Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Exchange Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20 1UG.

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