I’m sure you remember The School Play from your years in education; a creaky Charley’s Aunt or an enthusiastic, but nevertheless poorly sung, HMS Pinafore.
Welcome to the 21st century.
Portsmouth Grammar School are at the Kings Theatre – for two nights only – with Dolly Parton’s musical version of 9 to 5 and it’s more than worth a visit.
The story of three disillusioned workers in the late Seventies, victims of not only their boss’s sexism, but a sexism that was (many would argue still is; another story) ingrained in society, who end up kidnapping the boss and taking over the company, making life better for the other employees and – of course! – increasing productivity.
The central performances are incredibly strong. Vocally, Emma Watkins (Violet), Megan Fisher (Doralee) and Sofia Callander (Judy) are astonishing. Their acting isn’t too shabby, either. Isaac Lee as their ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ of a boss shows an understanding of comedy technique far beyond his years and Oliver Saint as Joe has an astoundingly good singing voice.
The choreography is clever; it’s aimed at non-dancers and is not complicated – but that simplicity is its strength. As a result, the ensemble numbers are very well-performed; no-one stands out as being brilliant, no-one appears weaker than the rest. As I said – clever. The ensemble vocals are strong, too.
Perhaps, perhaps the direction could have allowed soloists to do more than stand down-stage centre to sing solos, but that’s small-fry.
And top marks to the extremely slick backstage crew.