Theatre review: 9 to 5 The Musical, Glasgow

From its bouncy typewriter-tapping theme tune to its you-go-girl brand of light feminism, 1980 film comedy 9 To 5 is fondly remembered as a minor classic.

Amy Lennox. Picture: submitted
Amy Lennox. Picture: submitted

9 to 5 The Musical - King’s Theatre, Glasgow

* * *

Sign up to our daily newsletter

With extra songs provided by original star Dolly Parton herself – who also contributes a slightly odd introduction, via video – you’d think that a musical version couldn’t fail. Yet this touring production of a Broadway and West End hit seems to drag slower than Dolly trying to run in high heels.

It hews closely to the original tale of three put-upon female secretaries who band together to overthrow their “sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigot” of a male boss, apart from the obligatory introduction of a romantic interest for one of the women. Much play is made of its 1980s setting and fashions, which are assumed to be intrinsically hilarious. Old-hat humour like staggering drunks and repressed spinsters do evoke audience laughs, but the smart, recognisable satire of the original is watered down.

Aside from the title song, Parton has kept back her best-known hits (presumably for her upcoming musical based on her own life) and brassy arrangements kill the country charm of the couple she’s recorded. The new songs fit the modern Broadway style better, but aren’t particularly memorable.

Still, spirited performances from a capable, hard-working cast – particularly Amy Lennox, who has the unenviable task of following Dolly, and Ben Richards as the dancing boss – make this a slick production with plenty of big ensemble numbers. It’s just a shame the glossy, gaudy show doesn’t have much heart.