Dolly Parton – Lyrics and Book by Patricia Resnick
Theatre Sydney until 1st May 2022.
on 26th February reviewed by Bill Stephens.
A triumph of
presentation over content this cheery musicalization of the popular 1980’s film
of the same name turns out to be a much more delightful entertainment than it
deserves to be, thanks mainly to some terrific performances from its topline
of the book and lyrics, Patricia Resnick, has drawn her characters with a broad
brush, providing a series of unlikely events which serve the ethic of the
story, but don’t really stand up to examination. Taking this as his cue, Jeff
Calhoun’s direction is similarly broad, sometimes dubious, requiring his cast to
underline the many double entendre’s with crotch-grabbing and bumps to make
sure the audience get the joke.
Dolly Parton has gifted the production with a parcel of attractive songs, though with the exception of the title song, none is particularly memorable, but they do keep the show bubbling along, and serve the storyline well. They also provide choreographer, Lisa Stevens, with plenty of inspiration to keep her hardworking dancers on their toes as they double as stylish scene changers and razzle dazzle eye-candy.
|Marina Prior as Violet Newstead and Ensemble performing "One of the Boys".
The female empowerment
storyline follows the adventures of three female employees of Consolidated
Industries who kidnap their lecherous boss, and imprison him in his own home,
while they take over the running of the business.
As one of
the trio of women, Marina Prior draws on her considerable musical theatre
experience to invest her character, Violet Newstead, with warmth and dignity.
She sings and dances like the star she is, and is no slouch when it comes to
nailing the comedy. Violet Newstead is the
office supervisor who’s upset because once again she’s been passed over for
promotion by her lecherous boss, Franklin Hart Jnr in favour of a man she’s
|Casey Donovan (Judy Bernly) - Marina Prior (Violet Newstead) - Erin Clare (Doralee Rhodes)
she’s been successful in small feature roles in several musicals previously,
Casey Donovan is a real surprise packet as the newbie, Judy Bernly, struggling in
her first job since the break-up of her marriage to Dick (cue for dick jokes)
who Violet takes under her wing. Like her character, Donovan has learned her
lessons well, creating a warm-hearted, huggable character while charting
Violet’s pathway from struggling novice to strong, confident individual, then
finally bringing the house down with her powerful rendition of “Get Out and
impressive as the third member of the triumvirate is Erin Clare who plays Doralee
Rhodes, a Dolly Parton-ish character, the unwitting target for the lustful
attentions of Franklin Hart Jnr, and for office gossip. Clare brings a charming naivety to the role
and successfully captures the Partridge twang for her solo “Backwoods Barbie”.
little young for the role but otherwise practically perfect, Eddie Perfect with
his big baritone speaking and singing voice is wonderfully odious as the randy
Franklin Hart Jnr. So easy to loathe in his funny, cleverly staged solo, “Here
for You”, Perfect makes it easy for the audience to side with his female
employees and their plot to bring him down.
Not to be
outdone, the wonderful Caroline O’Connor, in what could have been a throw-away
role as Hart’s faithful, if equally unsuspectingly lustful secretary, Roz
Keith, pulls out all stops and really does stop the show with her funny, energetic
performance of “Heart to Hart” in which she reveals her secret crush for
Franklin Hart Jnr.
is responsible for the rather wonderful 1980’s costumes, and the bright, mobile
setting which incorporates dozens of faux-television screens to allow Howard Hudson’s
lighting designs to flood the stage with colour.
also incorporates the piece de resistance, a centre stage screen which allows
Dolly Parton herself to greet the Sydney audience, introduce the individual
characters, even divulge what happens to her characters after the show ends,
and sing the title song accompanied by James Simpson’s occasionally too
dodgy sexual politics, “9 to 5” with its show-stopping performances from its
all-star cast, its colourful sets and costumes, catchy songs and exuberant
dances guarantees an evening of light-hearted, cleverly crafted, highly
entertaining musical theatre. You’d be mad to miss it.
Photos by David Hooley.
This review also published in Australian Arts Review. www.artsreview.com.au