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9 to 5 The Musical - Knighton Park Amateur Operatic Society Review

Knighton Park Amateur Operatic Society mount their latest production staging 9 to 5 The Musical at Leicester's Little Theatre.

Nicole Collins (Violet) Rosie Chalmers (Doralee), Kerry Smith (Judy). Photo by Poyner and Mee Photography

We all know the titular track made so famous by Dolly Parton who appeared in the 1980 movie and provided music and lyrics for the stage adaption. It's all got Parton written all over it and her music is joyous and uplifting.

Adapted to the stage by film co-writer Patricia Resnick the musical is at its heart about sexism and how women are belittled in the workplace. Sadly I fear how little has changed in certain quarters in the 42 years since the film was released.

The central figures of the show are Violet, Doralee and Judy who all work in the same office owned by their frankly abhorrent boss Mr. Hart. The three ladies join together to overthrow their boss and make the business thrive without the sexism they're all forced through.

It's hard to be too critical of the production and my only little gripe is the set or lack of. The use of projection is clever but doesn't always work alongside the lighting. The only real pieces of set on the stage are the office desks that are wheeled on and off stage but these are effective. That said the costumes are excellent and remind the audience it's 1979.

Rosie Chalmers (Doralee) and Joshua J Knott (Mr. Hart). Photo by Poyner and Mee Photography

It's Dolly Parton herself who appears on video at the start of the show and sets the scene as the title number gets going and once things get going to pace doesn't relent. It's a fun, frivolous 150 minutes and it's a tremendously talented cast.

Stepping into Dolly Parton's shoes to play Doralee is an outstanding Rosie Chalmers. She is confident and assured in the part. She nails the accent and the look but it's the backbone that is most impressively performed. Doralee endures sexual advances from her boss including an uncomfortable scene where she's asked to bend over and pick up a deliberately dropped pencil. Despite these advances, there's a strength to Chalmers's characterisation. She sings and dances well and is a delight to watch.

Nicole Collins does a great job with Violet Newstead who is overlooked for promotions because of her gender. Her frustration and exasperation are clear to see and captured superbly. Her big dance number 'One Of The Boys' is pulled off with real aplomb.

Perhaps the star performance though comes from Kerry Smith as Judy Bernly. She begins the show as this shy woman starting at the company after a divorce. As Judy steadily grows in confidence Smith becomes more and more brilliant. Smith sings with real feeling and is note-perfect in her big solo 'Get Out and Stay Out' which gains the biggest ovation of the night. 

Joshua J Knott (Mr. Hart), Nicole Collins (Violet) and Kerry Smith (Judy). Photo by Poyner and Mee Photography

Taking on the complete sleazeball of Mr. Hart is Joshua J Knott. He is clearly having a blast in the role and puts his all into capturing this chauvinistic disgrace of man whilst never overshadowing the three leading ladies. He has a great stage presence and is always on thong, sorry I mean song. Knott is a talent that would fit in on the biggest shows.

Playing Mr. Hart's doting assistant is Charlotte Brown. It's hard to see what she sees in her boss but she's unfazed by his rotten behavior and relishes the snooping and spying on her colleagues. Brown rounds out the role well especially towards the end when you see the more human side to her. There's unrelenting confidence in Brown's delivery and is another tremendous vocalist in the cast nailing both her solo numbers.

Parton's music features solo and ensemble numbers which are earworms. Big numbers like 'Shine Like The Sun' or 'Around Here' are delightful and the slick choreography by Lisa Heath is nailed by the cast. The off-stage orchestra, who'd you could easily think were a pre-recording, sounded sublime under Steven Duguid who directors the show and the orchestra.

If you want a great fun evening at the theatre then 9 to 5 delivers that and more. It's a bit outrageous in parts but at its centre are 3 magnificent performances and a talented local cast. For its female audience, it's empowering and uplifting. As you tumble out of the theatre you'll leave with the songs in your head and being hugely impressed by what you've witnessed.

9 to 5 The Musical continues at The Little Theatre in Leicester until Saturday 26th November. Tickets can be purchased from or from the theatre's box office by calling 0116 2551302.

The cast of 9 to 5. Photo by Poyner and Mee Photography

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