9 to 5, hit movie theatres in 1980 as a satire about three women getting even with their chauvinistic boss. Decades on, the movie has been reprised as 9 to 5 The Musical and is currently playing at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. Created by Dolly Parton, the feel-good musical is whimsical, yet touches on poignant issues. Originally written by Patricia Resnick, its movie counterpart starred Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Directed by Jeff Calhoun, the musical begins with Parton greeting the audience in a pre-recorded video feed that is set in a giant clock face perched above the stage. Parton is the epitome of a southern belle and commands the audience’s attention with her sparling smile and thick southern accent.

Set in the 1980’s when geometric designs and flashy colours were all the rage, the story centres on the lives of three women, Doralee Rhodes (Erin Clare), Violet Newstead (Marina Prior) and Judy Bernly (Casey Donovan) who work at Consolidated Industries. Their egotistical boss Franklin Hart (Eddie Perfect), sexually harasses Doralee and violates the women who are struggling with their own issues. When Violet uncovers her boss has been embezzling the company, she sets upon the road to revenge with the help of Doralee and Judy. Prior shines as Violet and Donovan showed her prowess in “Take Back my Life”. Clare had very big high heels to fill and was moving as Doralee. Caroline O’Connor was spectacular as Roz, Hart’s office snitch. Her highly sexually charged performance almost stole the show, although a little over the top. At times the musical was a little corny rather than comical, but that was to be expected. The first act moved a little slow but from the onset of the second act, the narrative moved at a cracking pace making the performance more engaging. The show closes with Parton appearing again in the clock face singing 9 to 5 with the cast and jokingly tells the audience if you don’t like the show, “Keep your mouth shut”.