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9 to 5 as presented by Trim Musical Society



9 to 5 as presented by Trim Musical Society

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 15th February 2024.



I think it was sometime last season that I suggested that 9 to 5 could be alternatively titled “Me Too, The Musical”, dealing, as it does, with the problems of misogyny in the workplace, but doing so with a delightfully comical perspective. This particular production, by Trim Musical Society, had three very strong females who had no problem at all in striking a blow for feminism, and doing so with a great deal of comedy and character.


Director, Stephen Acton, managed to create scenes that had the feel of a busy office environment without ever looking over-crowded and still allowed for good routines and movement. Indeed, the set for this production was absolutely delightful, based around a time piece motif, beautifully painted, and creating a clean, fresh, modern office environment. It was moved about the stage with stealth by Stage Manager, Frank Connolly and his team, who were super- efficient all night. There was beautiful attention to detail in the various office settings with appropriate furnishings and fixtures. Most striking was the large screen, centre stage, that gave us varied backgrounds and some very good effects and information, but the reason it worked so well was the perspective painting on the surrounding flats that gave every picture a great feeling of depth and space.




With a very strong cast, there was good attention to individuality among the characters, but it was the business between the three main characters that flowed very naturally and formed a wonderful bond between them, never more evident than in their pot-smoking scene, which was hilariously played by them all. The dream sequences were very well devised, as was Roz’s cheer-leader fantasy, which gave a novel approach to Heart to Hart. The pace of the show was excellent from start to finish, and I admired Stephen’s decision to omit the usual screen footage of Dolly Parton narrating the introduction. It adds little to the show and has, by now, lost its novelty appeal.


As already alluded to, Choreographer, Laura Douglas, succeeded well in devising clean and exciting routines for the opening scenes of the show that negotiated office furniture and limited space without ever looking uncomfortably crowded. Her dream sequences were well thought out and varied, and very well-executed by her dancers. One of the Boys was the show-piece of Act Two in a display that always looked fluent, precise and energetic. The chorus performed all that Laura had set for them with efficiency and energy, and I’m quite sure that Chorus Master, Ben Cully, was equally impressed with the work they put into their harmonies and vocal quality. Thanks to strong leadership from Musical Director, Dermot O’Callaghan, there was always a good balance between the orchestra and the vocalists, and the very fine band of musicians really seemed to enjoy the rhythms and tones of their music.


If the set for the show was attractive, it was certainly enhanced by a very good lighting design, with great use of back and side lighting and very smooth transitions from one state to another, resulting in some very beautiful pictures on the stage. The tone and colours always seemed just perfect for the action, and coupled with a highly efficient sound desk, well balanced microphones, well-executed effects and good secure cueing, the overall technical presentation of the show was of the highest quality.


But the Director, the Musical Director, the Choreographer and the Chorus Master are all very dependent on a talented and thoroughly engaged cast to bring their ideas to life, and in this respect, Trim put forward a very strong and impressive team.


With great authority, much bottled-up frustration, and yet a kind and caring heart, Violet Newstead was perfectly portrayed by Jenny McCabe, who realized the various levels of her character, with good comedic sense and a warm and strong vocal quality. Her relationship with Hart was delightfully volatile, while there was sincerity and restrained affection in her dealings with love-interest, Joe. But it was her bonding with Doralee and Judy that gave rise to the most enjoyable scenes of the show. Not surprising, as in Doralee, she met her match in terms of righteous indignation and genuine warmth of character, as beautifully expressed by Louise Cassidy. As the character based loosely on Dolly Parton herself, Louise found an authentic southern Belle accent, sported a fantastic blonde wig, and treated us to some impressive country-style singing. As with Jenny, she was strong on comedy and drama. Giving the stand out vocal performance of the night with Get Out and Stay Out, Anna Bergin was also a highly comical, bundle of nervous energy and agitation in the role of Judy Bernly. Her transition from nervy, insecure, recently jilted wife, to a scarily enthusiastic feminist was a hilarious journey, culminating in that powerhouse of a solo. Yet again, though, the real magical moments came when the three ladies were together as a team.


The object of their mutual disgust came in the shape of Kevin Hartnett, portraying the loathsome, superior, misogynistic jerk, Franklin Hart. Kevin played the role with tongue firmly-in-cheek, and a great sense of the ridiculous, turning in a brilliant comedic performance, enhanced by quality vocals. What Kevin was to shallowness, Colin Flynn was to sincerity, in a beautifully played Joe. Ever the perfect gentleman, yet with a loveable persistence, he gently wooed and won the heart of Violet, and along the way, they blended perfectly in a truly lovely rendition of Love Can Grow.


Jenny Seery turned in a highly entertaining performance as Roz Keith, the office crank with a giddy, lustful desire to be the object of Hart’s affection. An absolute bundle of energy, she cavorted with unrestrained ardour in Hart’s presence, and her well-delivered Heart to Hart was comedy gold.


There were convincing and commendable performances from Sam Lee as Dwayne Rhodes, sincere and supportive of Doralee, Aaron Stone as the love-rat husband of Judy, Grace Cosgrove as the feisty, fired-and-then-reinstated Maria Delgado, Luck Farrell as Violet’s pot supplying son, Josh, and Clare Murray as office stalwart Kathy. Further notable performances came from Siobhan Dobie as the rather scatter-brained wife, Missy Hart, Sean Fox as high flying Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tinsworthy, and a neat cameo performance from Liam Foley as the Xerox Man. Last but certainly not least, was a rather brilliant portrayal of office lush, Margaret, from the highly talented stalwart of Trim, Gwen Bagnall.


It helped considerably with the creation of individual characters that everyone was beautifully turned out in appropriate and well-selected costumes. From the everyday office attire to the more stylized outfits of the Dream ballet sequences and One Of The Boys, costuming was most effective and matched by the great attention to detail of make-up and hairstyles/wigs.


The transformation from office lush to elegant lady that happened to Margaret was wonderful, and typified the standard of the visual presentation of the whole show, as did the well-thought out transformation of the office scenes when the ladies took control of décor.

This was my first visit to the Swift Cultural Centre in Trim, and it was certainly a comfortable and accommodating venue. I’m quite sure that the Musical Society appreciated the facilities, and they most certainly made the most of them, presenting this wonderfully warm and entertaining production of 9 to 5. Thank you for a great night in good company.


Peter Kennedy

Gilbert Adjudicator 2023 / 2024


Some Photos kindly shared by the society - Photographer - Nathan Maher



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