Dolly Parton’s smash-hit musical ‘9 to 5’ has been earning rave reviews and 5-stars since appearing at London’s West End.

We popped in along to Sunderland Empire to catch this smash hit in the city. Here’s what we thought… 


What is 9 to 5 about?


9 to 5 the musical features the real Dolly Parton, in digital format


Back in 1978, four women, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Patricia Resnick came together to create the 9 to 5 movie, along with its famous soundtrack. 

A comedy musical and a joyous celebration of women, 9 to 5 the Musical is based on three women secretaries working in a bustling New York office with a horrible sexist male boss. 

The three, very different main characters fall into each others’ path when they concoct a plan against their boss to take him down from his patriarchal position. Queue mischievous plots, hilarious happenings and laughable consequences!


Who stars in 9 to 5?


Louise Redknapp stars in 9 To 5 the Musical at Sunderland Empire


The opening scene sees the country queen herself, Dolly Parton, appear digitally to introduce the characters, offer insight into the storyline and round off the show to an uproarious crowd in true Dolly fashion. 

Violet Newstead, a single mum working to provide for her young son, was played at this performance by Sarah-Marie Maxwell.  

Violet takes us on a journey of female empowerment as she charts the ongoing fight for equal status in the workplace for women. A truly inspirational character!

Doralee Rhodes (Stephanie Chandos) is a beautiful country girl with a dream to be a top country singer (sound familiar?). Doralee is underestimated and underestimated due to her striking appearance for her looks but really a boasts a heart of gold and just wants the world to be a better place.

Stephanie has starred in other musicals such as Hairspray and We Will Rock You! We take our hat off to her for nailing that country-western persona and accent throughout.

Judy Bernly, a young woman starting her first office job, is learning to become a strong single woman fending for herself after her husband left her for his secretary.

We see her character blossom from naive and heartbroken to confident and powerful. Judy is played by Vivian Panka and it’s her first UK debut with 9 to 5 having starred in theatre productions in the Netherlands.

A word for the horrible boss Franklin Hart Jr. Sean Needham plays this character extremely well, even when being hung in mid-air. Sean has amassed plenty of theatre credits and also starred in TV shows such as Emmerdale and Hollyoaks! 

Another strong character is Roz Keith played by Julia J Nagle, this character brings so much joy to the show. Obsessed with her boss, she plays the character tremendously well making her workplace obsession hilarious for the masses.


What’s good about it?


The cast of Dolly Parton's 9-5 the Musical


With an Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-nominated score by the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton, and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick, this hilarious new production is a joyous, uplifting thrill ride that reminds us that teaming up and standing up for what is right is the only way of taking care of business. 

Despite it being in the beautiful Sunderland Empire theatre, the production, props and lighting were spectacular – it was evident to see that due care and attention for every item had been well thought out. It needed to be, with powerhouse voices transporting us to the 50s all night long. 

A special mention for the soundtrack. It’s not hard to see why it’s raked in a raft of awards. The musical is witty, engaging and induces regular toe-taps throughout as it expertly brings sexism to light through music. 

‘I’m a woman and proud of it’. A phrase from a particular score that has never rung truer. 

At the end of the show, Dolly rejoined the merriments to offer more of a storyline to the characters; how they had progressed through life before jumping into an all-singing, all-dancing euphoric sing-song to 9 to 5. A fitting way to end such a vibrant and enthralling show.             


When is it on?



Tickets start from just £13. 9 to 5 the Musical runs until Saturday 13th November. Limited tickets remain and can be purchased via the link here:

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