With a rousing opening rendition of Dolly Parton’s iconic '9 to 5' as the company of Nogal Productions take to the stage and with great choreography this promises to be yet another amazing production from an amateur group. Founded in 1984 by Garry Norris and Sue Gallagher this local award winning theatre group fundraise for special needs students integrated into the community. Tonight’s performance is supported by a wonderful invited orchestra under the direction of Gill Streatfield.
9 to 5 is based on a book by Patricia Resnick and a film of the same name and features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. Set in the late 1970's in California we share the lives of three very different women, Violet Newstead (Lynne Nolan), Doralee Rhodes (Rebecca Duckworth) and Judy Bernly (Vicki Coffey) who all work at the same company Consolidated Industries with a loathsome, lecherous, lothario as a boss, Franklyn Hart JR (Chris Sandiford).
Violet is despondent to have been passed over for promotion yet again despite having worked for the company for many years. Doralee is an attractive happily married woman and cannot understand why she is ostracised from her work colleagues and is appalled to discover that they are under the impression she is having an affair with her egotistical boss Hart. Judy is recently divorced and her independence is a frightening place for her as she struggles on her very first day at Consolidated Industries. Together the women have one thing in common and that is a hatred of Hart. As their friendship blossoms one evening after smoking pot and a drink or two, they fantasise how they would each 'do away' with the boss. Unfortunately fantasy nearly becomes a reality when Violet accidently poisons Hart the next day and when he discovers this from one of his workers Roz (Sara Morris) who is infatuated with him, he threatens them with the police. He then blackmails the women but they overpower him and whilst his wife is away, imprison him in his own home and take over the running of the company. How long can this last? What will be their fate?
This musical is well cast with all three of the leading ladies having wonderful vocals in particular Coffey who portrayed her character brilliantly. Nolan as well as giving a strong performance as Violet is also the assistant choreographer with director Sue Gallagher for the show. It is obvious that a lot of hard work has gone into this production as it all comes over as highly polished when the whole ensemble take to the stage. Very often this can look messy but was beautifully choreographed tonight with some great routines from the males in the cast especially during 'One of the Boys'. Sandiford is someone you love to hate, hate because he really does play his sexist character Hart so well, love, because this shows his acting talent to make his character so believable.
A special mention has to go to Morris's 'striptease' which was hilarious and received well deserved cheers from the audience. Ciaren O'Brien as Joe also demonstrates great vocals. Throughout the show everyone maintains the American accent especially Duckworth as she sings country and western as she portrays the sexy but naive Doralee.
The set changes are simple and smooth with little distraction, there were a couple of technical sound issues with crackling microphones mostly in the first half, but as opening night I am sure these will be ironed out for future performances. There were no signs of first night nerves and a slight prop fail for Hart was covered brilliantly and professionally, without hesitation and brought laughter and a round of applause from the audience. Maybe that should be repeated!
I would love to mention each performer by name, as each and everyone put in fabulous performances which has to make this one of the best amateur productions I have had the pleasure to attend, but with so many in the cast this is impossible, so well done to you all for your commitment and I am sure this will go on to be a great success. I look forward to further productions.
9 to 5 continues at the Charter Theatre, Preston Guild Hall until Saturday 5th November2016 and for tickets and information: https://prestonguildhall.co.uk/shows/9-to-5/
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 2nd November 2016