Violet Shakes up the Office!

“I’m on a women’s rights ride at the moment!” laughs Nicola Morrin, as we catch up during a break in rehearsals for 9 to 5 – the Musical. I’ve just played another very strong female character, Rita in Made in Dagenham, who led the fight for equal pay at the Ford car factory in the ‘60s. Now I’ve been cast as Violet, another hard working mum.”

“She’s a victim of office politics and teams up with her colleagues Judy and Doralee to teach the boss a lesson!”

Nicola Morrin

Nicola Morrin

The relationship between the three female characters is at the heart of 9 to 5.

“Violet takes a chance on Judy. She sees she’s very inexperienced in the workplace, so needs her strength and protection. But Judy teaches Violet a lesson too, not to be judgemental of Doralee, based on how she looks.”

“It’s clear we all need each other – and together we’re stronger.”

Events manager Nicola has performed with a range of amateur societies across Hampshire and Berkshire, notably Reading Operatic Society, but took a five year break when her own children came along. They’re now aged 7 and 10, and Nicola is enjoying her return to the stage in 9 to 5.

“It’s quite unusual for an amateur company to be allowed to perform a show while it’s still running in the West End, so this is a great opportunity for BATS!”

The powerhouse vocals of Nicola and her fellow performers bring Dolly Parton’s music to the stage in sensational style, including the classics 9 to 5, Backwoods Barbie and songs specially written for the musical.

So why pay West End prices when there’s talent like this on your doorstep?

See Nicola in 9 to 5 – The Dolly Parton Musical at the Haymarket, from 19 - 23 November. Buy tickets online.

Meet our Dolly - aka Millie Clucas

Millie Clucas is getting used to telling people she’s playing the Dolly Parton role in 9 to 5, the Dolly Parton musical.

“When I got cast, I really felt the pressure because it’s such a big role, vocally and emotionally, and I want to do the character justice,” she explains.

Millie Clucas plays the role of Doraleee Rhodes

Millie Clucas plays the role of Doraleee Rhodes

Millie plays Doralee, a buxom secretary whom everyone presumes is having an affair with her horrible boss, but is actually the victim of his sexual harassment.

“She wants to be liked for who she is, not for what she looks like,” says Millie. “I’m quite often cast in roles like this, but I’m not that person in real life. For two hours on stage though, it’s fun to embody that role.”

That includes acting opposite BATS veteran Steve Westwood, who plays the boss, Franklin Hart. “He plays the part so well, the audience will really want him to get what’s coming to him!”

Doralee teams up with colleagues Violet and Judy to sort out the boss in an unconventional way… you’ll have to watch the show to find out how!

Like her fellow leading ladies Nicola Morrin, who plays Violet, and Jade Nicholas and Laura Burrell, who share the role of Judy, Millie is making her BATS debut with this show.

“I guess the theme of the show is, ‘Together, We’re Stronger’,” says Millie, “and the four of us get on really well. We back each other up, and that’s helped us develop the friendship between the three main characters - it’s coming really naturally now.”

Attending the weeknight rehearsals means an 80 mile round trip for Millie, from her home near the South Coast. “But the moment I listened to the full soundtrack of 9 to 5, I thought ‘I have to be in this show!’ The songs are fantastic – of course they are, they’re by Dolly Parton! So you make the time!”

See Millie in 9 to 5 – The Dolly Parton Musical at the Haymarket, from 19 - 23 November. Buy tickets online.

Meet two of our 9 to 5 Leading Ladies

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!

Jade Nicholas

Jade Nicholas

“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.”

Laura Burrell

Laura Burrell

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.

Oliver! Review, May 2019 - NODA

Oliver! with music, lyrics and book by Lionel Bart and based on the novel by Charles Dickens, was a successful film in the 60s and this stage production is stuffed full of all the well-known songs and characters that made the film such a success. From the opening ‘Food, Glorious Food’ to the great finale, the entire evening was full of memorable performances from this fine, talented ensemble.

The stage design which was dual level giving the impression of a bridge, combined with the lighting design helped to create the appearance of various settings: the orphanage, street scenes, the undertaker’s Parlour - was well conceived and of high quality. There was minimal disruption during the scene changes, sometimes during songs.

The costumes were in keeping with the period. There was great attention to detail and the costumes were well balanced. The lighting was effective and well controlled throughout. The sound was excellent with voices clear and blended well with the live music.

Kirsty Kingham as Nancy and Company performing Oom Pah, Pah

Kirsty Kingham as Nancy and Company performing Oom Pah, Pah

Director Liz Ilett is to be congratulated on directorial debut with this production. The cast were all on top form with some memorable performances, notably David Izzo as Fagin and Kirsty Kingham was a dynamite Nancy. This was an evening of classic songs, imaginative choreography and stellar performances, convincing accents and terrific singing which ended with a big round of applause from the appreciative audience. This was musical theatre at its best and lived up to the previous high quality shows we expect from BATS.

Chris Horton
National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) South East Region, District 14 Representative

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