Show was delightful '“ with a capital DD
The Maltings' stage was bursting at the seams with the music, spirit and voice of Dolly Parton last week, as Berwick Opera Society returned with a thrilling performance of '˜9 to 5'.
The Maltings’ stage was bursting at the seams with the music, spirit and voice of Dolly Parton last week, as Berwick Opera Society returned with a thrilling performance of ‘9 to 5’.
Set in 1970s America, the show tells the story of three female office workers who rebel against the sexist regime of their CEO and dream up a scheme to show him who’s boss.
The three female leads were particularly impressive, ably supported by a very strong cast who all looked as if they were having rootin’ tootin’ good fun from the opening number until the closing bows.
Lisa Summers played downtrodden, widowed office manager Violet Newstead, whose unintended poisoning of boss Franklin Hart Jr sets the whole train of events in motion.
Her portrayal of female talent crushed up against the ‘glass ceiling’ had the audience rooting for her from the off, evident in the passionate applause to her strongest musical number, ‘One of the Boys.’
There was tender solidarity too in her befriending of newcomer Judy Bernly, the vulnerable divorcee played in a note-perfect performance by Diane Renner. Judy’s resolute rebuff to her creep of an ex-husband, ‘Get Out and Stay Out’ was a highlight of the show.
Zoe Graham was powerful and impressive as ever in the ‘Dolly’ role of Doralee Rhodes, lighting up the audience with smiles during the Dolly classic, ‘Backwoods Barbie.’ Strong solo performances notwithstanding, these three leads were at their best together onstage, with ‘Shine Like the Sun’ a notably unified and impressive number.
Euan Duthie sleazed across the stage with misogynistic entitlement in the role of Franklin Hart, Jr, bigoted boss of Consolidated Industries, expressively (and suggestively) sharing his romantic fantasies in ‘Here for You.’ Louise Wood stole every scene she appeared in as besotted PA Roz Keith, and her solo songs ‘Heart to Hart’ and ‘5 to 9’ had the audience equally in stitches and moved.
Slink Jadranko played good guy Joe with understated tenderness, and Cameron Robertson was solid as Doralee’s decent husband, Dwayne.
A strength of the production was the quality of all the principal performances, with office workers Missy (Susan Potts), Kathy (Denise Clarke), and Maria (Nicola Foggin) convincing and empathetic, and Sandra Storey playing the tragic lush who cleans up her act, Margaret, with just the right combination of comic timing and sensitivity.
Georgina Faed was once again, playing both in the ensemble and as Violet’s teen daughter, Jess. Fergus Rae and Robert Lowthian were both suitably slimy as creeps Dick and Bob. A particularly noteworthy cameo was provided by Iain Lowson who was extremely polished in the role of Tinsworthy.
All of the musical numbers were expertly delivered under the musical direction of Ron Creasey, and the breadth of the orchestral arrangement was impressive (did I hear mandolin in a few numbers?) along with the professionalism of the timing.
Choreography was very well handled too, with some challenging bigger numbers ranging across a variety of musical and dance styles. This slickness was also true of all the production values, especially the smooth transitions between scenes and musical numbers, and the technical aspects of the production all impressed too, even conjuring the face and voice of Dolly herself onstage to a great response from the audience.
The set design was very sharp too, and props effective also.
Director Jane Rutherford has every right to feel delighted with a capital DD with the work of her cast and crew, another success for Berwick Operatic.