Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were an iconic trio of leading ladies in the 1980 film version of 9 to 5, playing the roles of Doralee, Judy and Violet. Taking on the roles in BATS’ production are Millie Clucas, Jade Nicholas, Laura Burrell and Nicola Morrin.
Yes, you did count correctly – BATS boasts four leading ladies!
The explanation is simple. So many talented women auditioned for director Nick Brannam and musical director Jules Dance, they decided the role of Judy should be shared by Jade and Laura. They’ll each perform at three out of six performances – and tossed a coin to decide which ones!
“The show’s got a lot of heart, a relevant message, and it’s also so funny – it’s a great night out at the theatre!” says Laura.
“The music is beautiful!” says Jade. “Dolly Parton is such a great songwriter. I’ve wanted to be in the show ever since I first heard the song at the end of Act Two – Get Out and Stay Out. It’s for anyone who’s ever been used by someone. It’s an important and empowering song and hopefully people hearing it for the first time will really relate to it.”
9 to 5 sees the character of Judy face the challenge of her first office job. The firm is dominated by nasty, sexist boss Franklin Hart. But Judy bonds with fellow workers Doralee and Violet, and together they prove that love, loyalty and friendship trumps office politics.
“Even though the show is set in the 80s, I know some of those old-fashioned attitudes still exist,” says Laura, “where basically the women are running the office, but the men are like ‘let’s not give them any ideas’. Have we really come that far? In some places, not really.”
Jade and Laura are both newcomers to BATS, and they have other things in common too. Both trained professionally in musical theatre – Jade even spent a week on Broadway – but both left performing behind as life took a different turn.
“I went travelling round the world,” explains Jade, “and spent some time as a volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Thailand, working with elephants. I was just completely happy. I went on to study animal welfare at the University of Winchester, and now work as a dog trainer.”
But though she no longer wanted to pursue performing as a career, Jade’s talents have recently been showcased in local productions of Anything Goes and Rent, and she is clearly relishing the role of Judy in 9 to 5.
As for Laura, she’s returning to the stage after having her daughter, who’s now one year old. “The main difference I’ve noticed is how my voice has changed in my time off. My husband works in London, so I’m calling in every babysitting favour I can to do the show! But it is absolutely worth it. I love 9 to 5, and I know audiences will too.”
You can see Jade and Laura in 9 to 5 – The Dolly Parton Musical at the Haymarket, from 19 - 23 November. Buy tickets online.