New Ross Standard - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID LOOBY

THE pure es­capism and fun of a great musical was en­joyed by more than one thou­sand peo­ple at St Michael’s Theatre Musical So­ci­ety’s in­fec­tiously hi­lar­i­ous take on 9 to 5, the Dolly Par­ton musical.

The coun­try star with a big per­son­al­ity even made a few guest ap­pear­ances dur­ing the shows (on a large screen po­si­tioned over the stage), which ran for five nights from Tues­day till Satur­day to large au­di­ences.

Di­rected by Kevin Kennedy, with musical di­rec­tion by Philip Kennedy and chore­og­ra­phy by Claire Kick­ham, the musical com­edy which is based on the 1980 movie, had it all, from fan­tas­tic dance rou­tines, to won­der­ful comic set pieces and a gen­er­ous smat­ter­ing of silli­ness and bawdy fun.

The uplift­ing and fun-filled the­atri­cal musical tells the story of Vi­o­let New­stead, Judy Bernly and Do­ralee Rhodes, three col­leagues work­ing un­der the su­per­vi­sion of their sleazy boss Franklin Hart Jr. As their friend­ship strength­ens through ad­ver­sity, the girls con­coct a scheme to kid­nap Hart and take con­trol of the of­fice, im­ple­ment­ing a se­ries of new in­no­va­tive of­fice poli­cies and trans­form­ing their work­place into a bet­ter place to work. Here, slap bang in the mid­dle of this male dom­i­nated late 70s Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, the sto­ry­line gets a modern re­boot, with a slight nod to the MeToo move­ment.

Star­ring Teresa Buck­ley as Vi­o­let, Ash­ley Do­ran as Judy and Jen­nifer White as Do­ralee, with Keith Flana­gan as Franklin Hart Jr. and an ensem­ble cast in­clud­ing Julie Kinsella, Michael Ben­son, Phil Ersk­ine, Owen Cull­nane, Ed­ward O’Dowd and Brid Moloney, the act­ing was ex­cel­lent through­out and not a beat was missed in the pit be­low where a large orches­tra of­fered up ex­u­ber­ant hit af­ter hit.

White, with her sac­cha­rin sweet Amer­i­can ac­cent, served up a be­liev­able Dolly Par­ton, and she had the crowd en­thralled, (and in stitches), when she lost it with her hands on boss. The orches­tra, con­ducted by Philip Kennedy, of­fered ev­ery­thing from zippy pop con­fec­tions to woozy, mys­te­ri­ous songs. Flana­gan was fan­tas­tic as the over-sexed boss who even­tu­ally gets found out and is left hang­ing, lit­er­ally, by the three women he bul­lied, ha­rassed, ogled and as­saulted at work. White, with her high heels and low cut tops, had an ex­cel­lent sup­port­ing cast of hi­lar­i­ous char­ac­ters which kept the plot bob­bing along nicely.

Teresa Buck­ley was a pow­er­house and Ash­ley Do­ran ex­celled in her role as the di­vorcee who finds her strength, with a lit­tle help from some col­leagues, in the cut and thrust of a cut-throat of­fice, where the nar­cis­sis­tic Hart’s preen­ing sec­re­tary is al­ways within spy­ing dis­tance.

The breadth of tal­ent on dis­play was some­thing to be­hold from close quar­ters.

There were too many laugh out loud mo­ments to men­tion in these col­umn inches, but by the end the crowds were stomp­ing their feet in time to the mu­sic and up danc­ing even for the fi­nal numbers. Packed with big cho­rus numbers, won­der­ful ensem­ble pieces and provoca­tive so­los, ‘ 9 to 5’ was a blast. The script, at turns witty, funny, sad and risqué, had the au­di­ence in stitches, while the set looked straight out of the 1970s with its pas­tel kalei­do­scope of colours. The style is also rem­i­nis­cent of the era. The par­tic­u­lar­ity of vi­sion and de­tail of the en­tire show was im­pres­sive, as was the dense and won­der­ful mu­sic.

Sparkling per­for­mances from a fan­tas­tic ensem­ble cast made this a very cred­itable, fun and hi­lar­i­ous night’s en­ter­tain­ment from the award win­ning musical group.

The cast of the musical 9 to 5 by St Michael’s Theatre Musical So­ci­ety.

Teresa Buck­ley as Vi­o­let and Keith Flana­gan as Hart.

LEFT: Ash­ley Do­ran as Judy. ABOVE: Keith Flana­gan as Hart and Jen­nifer White as Do­ralee.

Julie Kinsella as Roz.

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