Couch Potato Pickings: 9 to 5 – from screen to stage

Since I wasn’t working 9 to 5 yesterday  I decided to watch 9 to 5 instead – twice.

The first viewing was on screen from the comfort of my couch – in the form of the Colin Higgins movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as office colleagues rebelling against their sexist boss 70s-style.

And the second viewing was on stage in the form of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 Musical. This is the same 1979-set story with the added bonus of Dolly Parton songs throughout.

So which was better?

Well, the film is fab, even though in 2013 it does present a rather dated portrait of the office environment. But with Dolly Parton at the centre, it clearly still has charm for me. And I’d forgotten how funny it is. It certainly got me in the mood for the musical.

And that was fab too. The friends I went with assumed that it was going to feature Dolly Parton classics squeezed into the 9-5 storyline Mamma Mia!-stylee. And when I revealed that this wasn’t going to be the case, they seemed somewhat disappointed as we took our seats. However, they got over that pretty quickly because this show has a repertoire of freshly-penned Dolly songs that are just as catchy, moving and funny as her classic oldies, and they also bring the 9 to 5 story to life brilliantly. One thing’s for sure – Dolly‘s still got it!

As for the 9 to 5 story, it’s pretty much the same in the musical. In fact many of the lines are exactly the same. Having just watched the film, I really noticed this. The only real difference is that the Violet character has a love interest – something that didn’t exist in the movie version. I suspect this was Dolly wanting to do what she does best and write a moving love song for the show – in form of the heartwrencher Let Love Grow.

I’ve waited four years to see this show. I was still in my thirties when I originally wrote here about 9 to 5 The Musical! Scary!

So was it worth the wait? And is it better than the movie?

Well, I’d have to say yes. It includes all the best lines from the film and in many instances has made the funny scenes even funnier. There’s also a playful, tongue-in-cheek use of the 70s context. Performances were great from Amy Lennox, Natalie Casey and Jackie Clune as the trio of work colleagues, while Ben Richards was good as sleazy boss Hart. And a particularly memorable surprise was Bonnie Langford as office snitch Roz – let’s just say we got to see more of her than we expected…

But the best bit, I think, was having Dolly feature as a big screen MC to introduce and close the show. Her southern charm and cheeky wit provided a wonderful addition, and this feature really made it for me. All I can say is I really hope this musical version gets made into a movie too.

By the way, I warn you now, my 9 to 5 double bill of yesterday has truly reignited my Dolly Parton passion, not to mention my love of all things country. So don’t be surprised if I start picking films with a country music theme for a while. I’ll be back on Tuesday so be prepared, y’all….

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