King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
9 to 5 is one of Dolly Parton’s best-loved songs, and this musical, is very much the singer’s brainchild too, featuring her music and lyrics with book by Patricia Resnick. Dolly even makes an appearance, projected onto a screen, introducing the show. It’s a lively, sprawling tale of office life, a feminist-lite story of three women who collaborate to overthrow their sexist boss, Hart (Colin Cairncross) and make their workplace more amenable.
Okay, so the storyline is somewhat shonky but the Bohemians Lyric Opera Company are one of Edinburgh’s best known amateur groups, established in 1909, and their production is as gutsy and energetic as you might expect. It’s beautifully styled – all 70s kitsch – and the choral singing is excellent.
But the stand-outs are the three leads, each perfectly cast. Katherine Croan is a sassy Doralee, the Dolly-Parton-esque glamour puss who despairs of her colleagues who refuse to see there’s more to her than hair and boobs. She struts and pouts and really owns the stage. It’s a wonderful performance. Jo Heinemeier is also impressive as Judy, the timid new girl in the office, learning independence after her husband has left her. Her voice is truly exquisite. Pauline Dickson’s Violet is another delight, conveying strength as well as vulnerability; it’s a maternal role and very well realised. The relationship between the three characters is warm and convincing, and really makes the piece.
There are a few quibbles: the choreography is perhaps a little over-ambitious at times, and there are too many complicated set changes, but overall this is a decent production – and very well worth going to see.