Review: Bravo to Burnley cast for tour de force production of smash hit Dolly Parton musical

'This smash hit musical is the most fun you will have at the theatre all year.'
The cast of 9 to 5 The Musical being performed by Burnley Light Opera SocietyThe cast of 9 to 5 The Musical being performed by Burnley Light Opera Society
The cast of 9 to 5 The Musical being performed by Burnley Light Opera Society

That's the promise Burnley Light Opera Society chairman David Gill makes in the programme for 9 to 5 The Musical. And he was right.

From the show stopping opening number, when the entire cast perform the chart topping iconic hit 9 to 5, through to the final scene, the show is lively, funny, outrageous, colourful and thoroughly enjoyable with each and every member of the cast word perfect.

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Premiered in 2008, 9 to 5 The Musical is based on the 1980 film of the same name with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton.

The cast of Burnley Light Opera Society perform 9 to 5 The MusicalThe cast of Burnley Light Opera Society perform 9 to 5 The Musical
The cast of Burnley Light Opera Society perform 9 to 5 The Musical

Opening in the West End in 2019 it tells the story of three female workmates pushed to the brink by their sexist and egotistical boss. So they concoct a crazy plan to kidnap him and turn the tables on him and their despicable supervisor.

This is he first time the company have been on stage since November, 2019 when they performed The Sound of Music. So this was a sort of 'come back' show and boy, was it worth the wait.

Leanne Wharf is just marvellous in the role of Doralee Rhodes, the character made famous by Dolly Parton. It's clear to see Leanne was born to perform, she gave the character just the right mix of sass and pathos and moved me to tears with her rendition of "Backwoods Barbie.'

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Zoe Tompkins gave a sterling performance as Violet Newstead, who runs the office where the friends work. And this was despite the fact poor Zoe injured her foot during dance rehearsals and was confined to a wheelchair for most of the show. Like the trooper she is, Zoe made it work.

The trio was completed with Jenny Gill as Judy Bernly, the young new office recruit. Jenny plays the role beautifully and she totally won the hearts of the audience with her amazing singing voice.

Daniel Morville relished his role as the obnoxious boss Franklin Hart and avoided the temptation to go over the top with the character who is involved in several slapstick scenes, including being hoisted into the air!

And I have to say that Joanne Gill almost stole the show as the uptight supervisor Roz Keith who is secretly in love with her boss. Her rendition of Heart to Hart, where she declares her love for him, was a tour de force.

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Margaret, the office 'lush' was played with superb comedy timing by Sue Avanson and the audience literally cheered when she emerged from rehab as a new woman.

A huge congratulations to director and choregrapher Anthony Williams, whose vision brought the show to life.

Using a video wall, the scenery changes at the flick of a switch and Anthony's idea to create a series of steps at the front of the stage brings the players into the audience. This means the orchestra, led by musical director Steven Mercer-Murray, was re-located to the rear of the stage behind a screen.

And even Dolly herself makes a surprise 'appearance.'

9 to 5 The Musical is a fast paced, high octane show...the perfect antidote to the misery of the past 18 months and I would heartily recommend you go and see it. I have said it before about BLOS, but this production could easily grace a professional stage.

Congratulations to all involved.

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The show runs nightly until this Saturday (November 20th) and tickets are available from the Mechanics Theatre box office on Manchester Road by ringing 01282 664400.

Box office opening hours are Tuesday to Friday 11am to 4pm and Saturday 11am to 2:30pm. Tickets can also be booked through the website by going to

The rest of the cast includes: Sarah Farragher (Kathy) Matt Dickinson (Joe) Joel Atkin (Josh) Ann Mason (Missy Hart) Callum Tempest (Dwayne) Geoff Baron ( Russell) Rhys Alexander (Dick) Scarlet Dickinson (Marie/Ronnette) Arden Amstrong (Ronnette) Roxie Lowe (Ronnette) Harry Lydon (principal dancer/headboy) Chris Taylor (principal dancer) Graham Cheshire (Bob/detective)

Allison Nuttall, Vicki Clarkson, Debbie Stopforth, Liz Blackburn, Liz Wood, Annie Whittaker, Jessica Whittaker, Bethany Whittaker, Keiron Gardner, Alan Whittaker, Barbara Cilgram, Jackie Catlow, Carrie Bishop, Charlie Hall, and Tori Vaal (ensemble and pit singers)

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