Saturday, December 2

9 to 5 – The Grange Theatre, Hartford

I had not seen a Salt & Pepper Production before tonight, however I can assure you this will not be my last visit, as this theatre company is most definitely a first-class polished group of exceptionally talented individuals.

I was honoured enough to meet Sue Chatt the mother of the Artistic Director and Choreographer Joanna Milborne-Chatt, who passionately informed me of the creation of Salt & Pepper, which was born out of a personal tragedy and became Milborne-Chatt’s focus to produce on stage magic and support Headway’s charity.

This is Salt & Pepper’s third stage production, the first being ‘Rock of Ages’ which was an award-winning success and the second being ‘Calendar Girls’ in 2021, both generating funds for Milborne-Chatt’s chosen charities Headway and Blood Cancer UK. It is clear that Milborne-Chatt has the winning formula as ‘9 to 5’ was worthy of any main stage in the West End!

The musical ‘9 to 5’ follows three working women Judy, Violet, and Doralee as they attempt to take down their sexist, egotistical boss, Franklin Hart Jr. Each woman has their own unique personalities and strengths that help them in their mission to free themselves of Hart’s oppressive regime.

True to the classic 1980s film 9 to 5, you’ll be pleased to know that the musical adaptation is just as entertaining and funny as the original, I had forgotten how comical and delightful the show was.

Judy Bernly was played by the exceptionally talented Louise Colohan who is new to the workforce, she is also in the process of a divorce and is determined to succeed in her new position. Judy is trying to find her place in this new environment and her own way in the world without a man, Colohan’s rendition of ‘Get Out and Stay Out’ literally brought me to tears with the amount of emotion she portrayed during the lyrics. Colohan’s colossal talent literally blew me away, leaving me questioning how and why this lady is not on the West End stage as she is a polished all-rounder with her phenomenal acting ability and magnificent vocal range.

Violet Newstead (Lucy Page) has worked at the firm for many years and is the senior office supervisor trying to move up in the company but is faced by prejudice in an executive male world. Violet is a strong and independent single mum who stands up for herself and for those around her leading to a brilliant plan with her ‘girls’ to bring down the male hierarchy. Page was a spectacular leading lady with her striking vocals and superb acting, again another top-class performer worthy of any professional stage.

Doralee Rhodes (Shannon Webb) is the sexy, country gal who is the secretary for the boss, Franklin Hart Jr CEO (Michael Shneck). She is misunderstood at the beginning due to rumours about an affair with the boss but becomes a strong cog in the machine that destroys Hart. This iconic role was originally delivered by the infamous Dolly Parton, so is no easy task to step into Doralee’s character, however Webb did a sterling job of delivering this challenging role.

The friendship and camaraderie that develop between the characters are one of the best parts of the show. They form a true team who are determined to stand up to the oppressive regime of their boss and reclaim their right to work in a safe and equal environment. It’s a message of empowerment that is as relevant today as it was in the 1980s.

Singly noteworthy was Suzie Lowe’s interpretation of Roz the love-struck snitch for Hart, her recital if ‘Heart to Hart’ was sublime with her comical but heart felt lust and desire for the boss, humongous applause to Lowe.

There were no weak links in this strong cast, as each and every individual gave their all on stage tonight, it is evident that Salt & Pepper encourage their cast to reach their potential whilst they do what they love most in performing arts.

If you’re looking for a show that will make you laugh, cry, and cheer, ‘9 to 5’ musical is the perfect show!

Well done to the production team for an impressive show, filled with glorious costumes, splendid staging, fabulous choreography all enhanced by the majestic live orchestra directed by Michael Griffiths.

Don’t miss out on this spectacular show and grab a ticket whilst you can, as you are in for a real treat.

Reviewer: Katie Leicester

Reviewed: 1st November 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.