Dolly Parton’s 9 TO 5

Rebecca Varidel
28th Feb 2022

FUN FACTOR 5 and a half out of 5!

Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 Musical opening night at the Capitol Theatre Sydney, was resplendent with red carpet, paparazzi, celebrity wall and of course all the celebrities. We were there. So was Dolly Parton! Inside the clockface screen, Dolly commanded our attention as our narrator. It was an unexpected opening to see her fabulous face, to hear her unmistakable lilting voice. And from the start, in those opening scenes, the excited audience roared with applause.

It didn't stop there. Casey Donovan nearly stopped the show spontaneously receiving a boisterous standing ovation mid show. And she gracefully managed in character to receive it, then skillfully exit stage right. All throughout her musical theatre career, I've been a huge fan. This may seem a little different in her casting of shy demure never-worked-before housewife Judy Bernly, than her other roles and than her on screen counterpart Jane Fonda. But Casey Donovan owned this part. She just goes from strength to strength in her performances. In this 9 to 5 role she perfected nuance, in every note, gesture and movement. Your heart aches for her on her first day of work. Applaud her, support her as she steps into her power. Every second of her 9 to 5 opening night, singing, acting, stage presence and movement was impeccably perfect in every way.

If you're not familiar with the importance of a role where a woman has never worked, and what it was like for a woman entering the workplace, step back more than 40 years to the time of the 9 To 5 film. In Australia, equal pay had only just been awarded but management was still dominated by men. And although we would hope to have come a long way since then, contemporary work place issues for women are still making the news. 

When Dolly Parton first wrote the song 9 To 5 in 1978, according to PBS she was doing more than just shining a light on the fate of American working women. Dolly Parton was singing the true story of a movement that started with 9 To 5 a group of Boston secretaries in the early 1970s. Their goals were simple—better pay, more advancement opportunities and an end to sexual harassment—but their unconventional approach attracted the press and shamed their bosses into change.

Alongside Judy Bernly (Casey Donovan) her partners in crime (change) are Violet Newstead (the legendary diva Marina Prior) and (filling big shoes Erin Clare as) Doralee Rhodes. You just gotta love 'em, and their capers, you've got no choice. Yet be confident, all three of the trio are totally capable in star level performances, acting and singing - representing these 9 to 5 workplace changemakers with every ounce of magic they deserve.

But don't let this all sound so serious. Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 Musical is pure entertainment. Seriously, funny! 

Caroline O'Connor as Roz Keith is an absolute hoot, in her unrequited love for her boss. She is so hot and hilarious she nearly steals the show. Miss O'Connor demonstrates the most impressive comedic timing and larger-than-life expressions. Her mischievous antics are so exhausting the audience nearly needs the rest of the cast for relief. And what would this story be without the villain, the boss Franklin Hart Jnr most capably played by Eddie Perfect. 

The dance team were sensational and right spot on every beat. Capturing the era of the original on screen release of 1980, the contemporary stage choreography is invigorating and exciting and incorporates vintage disco moves stylised into the jazz ballet dynamics. Lighting, set, staging, costumes, wigs, all are the top level professionalism to support these leads, ensemble, swings and live orchestra performances. Dolly Parton's 9 To 5 is the complete package.

This is the must see show of our times. Literally a laugh a minute. And. Entertaining. Even better than the movie! dare I say...

Most importantly. Let me just add. That this musical show, like the little lady Dolly Parton herself, leaves us with the reminder that women can be sexy, clever and strong simultaneously. Go GIRLS!

Sydney tickets are onsale until Sunday 1 May.