REVIEW: ‘9 To 5’ – Curtain Call Creative

Katy Haggerty. Georgina Field. Ellie Warne.

Remember those names.

This musical hinges on its three leading ladies, and they did not disappoint. The story of 9 to 5: The Musical, a show penned in 2007 and based on the 1980 film, is one of female empowerment in an office dominated by a ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ (to quote!), and it is led by office employees Violet Newstead, Doralee Rhodes and Judy Bernly.

Natural comic timing is a gift, and Katy Haggerty has it in spades. She was equal parts endearing, sympathetic and hilarious as Violet, and it was easy to forget the off-stage age of this young actress as she played the widowed mother striving for a promotion. From a tender performance of ‘Let Love Grow’ with the brilliant Alfie Luke as Joe, through to prancing about dressed as Snow White clutching a poisoned coffee cup and surrounded by forest critters, Katy took it all in her stride.

Georgina Field was magnetic as Doralee, not dropping so much as one drawled vowel, and her ‘Cowgirl’s Revenge’ was one of the highlights of the show, vocally and visually, led with gusto and charisma by Georgina and supported by a high-energy ensemble in true hoe down fashion, with choreography by Kerry Way. Doralee’s sweet relationship with Dwayne, played by Omar Naguib, was also charming to watch unfold.

Meanwhile, Ellie Warne balanced warmth and anxiousness as office newbie Judy, and the way her character arced from timid to assured was played with a wisdom beyond her years. Her outstanding vocals, particularly in ‘Get Out & Stay Out’ were entrancing, and the chemistry between her, Georgina and Katy as their friendship developed really was beautifully acted.

All three young women had the audience firmly on side from their first entrances, and it stayed that way throughout; on numerous occasions when a particularly profound line or put-down was delivered there were cheers of support from the audience.

But then they did have a fantastic ‘villain’ to go up against, in the form of Ebb Phillips as Franklin Hart, Jr. Taking on the role of a seasoned creep is no easy feat for any actor, let alone one so young, but Ebb attacked the role with vocal and physical dexterity that had the audience laughing one minute and cringing the next, which perhaps doesn’t sound like a compliment on first reading…but, if you know the show and this particular character, it is!

Any musical is only as good as its supporting cast and ensemble, and once again the Curtain Call students pulled it out of the bag. From Jess Freeston as office drunk Margaret to Henry Walker as Josh, and Arthur Garrett as Dick, to name but a few, they all gave assured performances. A special mention must go to Chantou Spit as Roz Keith, who went seamlessly from audience laughing stock in ‘Heart to Hart’ to someone they actually sympathised with in ‘5 to 9’.

The ensemble numbers were vocally strong, with a particular highlight being Act 2’s ‘Change It’, a powerful number that was delivered with real feeling by everyone on stage.

How valuable it is, too, that these students can experience performing with a live band. Live music always gives a show another dimension, and the joy in these young performers’ faces when the band started up behind them for the opening refrain of ‘9 to 5’ was something very special indeed.

With The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Les Misérables still to come this year, there are plenty of opportunities to see Curtain Call in action again in 2023, and you can take this review as a sound recommendation to get your tickets and go along.

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