It's not difficult to see why Rachel Dean, Georgia-Rose Rust and Jacqueline Willis have been cast as the principal women in the Portsmouth Players production of '9 to 5'. They're all vastly experienced, bursting with charisma and clearly fans of Dolly Parton herself.
Outside of rehearsals Rachel works in the Kings Theatre and has professional singing experience; Georgia-Rose is a singing teacher and owns a musical theatre company for disadvantaged children and Jacqueline is a special needs and dance teacher.
Catching them before one of their rehearsals, we spoke to them about the show, which - by the time this is published - will be in its very final stages and ready for its opening night audience. The rehearsal we saw was full of beautiful harmonies and strong performances. If this is a benchmark for the polished show opening this week, it would be almost criminal to miss it. Especially when you hear from the talent fronting the production.
Thanks for speaking with us this evening. Firstly, introduce yourselves and the parts you'll be playing.
R: I'm Rachel and I'm playing Doralee Rhodes, effectively the Dolly Parton part.
G: I'm Georgia-Rose and I'm playing the part of Judy Burnley.
J: And I'm Jacqueline, playing the part of Ila Newstead.
Tell us a bit about the production and the musical '9 to 5'.
R: It is your typical office in the 1970s, all the girls are secretaries, and we have this sexist, egotistical man who sees the women as meat – just secretaries. And in his head [Doralee and him] are having an affair but she is deeply in love with her husband Dwayne. Judy is new to the office – she is recently divorced. And then there is the lovely Violet -
J: The old girl of the three!
R: Yes! *laughs* The old girl who takes Judy under her wing on her first day. Judy has never worked a day in her life. For her this is a brand new world, she can't type and has no idea how an office is run. Violet really looks after her. I'm there, nobody likes me because they all think I am having an affair with the boss – which I'm not – and eventually the three girls unite -
G: Girl power!
R: Yes Girl power! The girls all get together one night and they get drunk and stoned and they all fantasise about [getting revenge on] Mr Hart! I won't spoil it anymore, but that is when it all happens!
Before we initially knew of it, we thought it might be jukebox musical. But it's not, is it?
J: I think a lot of people think that it will be Dolly Parton hits put together.
G: Even if the audience come in thinking “Dolly Parton music, Dolly Parton music”, the music she has written is so amazing and the fact you have the 'Dolly Parton role', I don't think they'll be disappointed.
R: Because people say, “Oh, you're Dolly Parton's part”, but it's not the Dolly Parton show, it's all about the girls. It's all three of us together.
You mention the 'Dolly Parton part' there, because your character is modelled on her. Is that a lot of pressure?
R: I've listened to her, and how she speaks. Someone got me the film for Christmas so I was listening to how she says certain lines.
G: In the beginning we were getting Dolly Parton and then a bit of brummy accent would come out! Rachel's completely on point now though, there's no brummy!
J: In normal musicals you're just someone else, you're fictitious characters but when you're actually portraying that character – the audience just know who she's meant to be so it's even harder.
R: It's exciting though. I still can't quite believe it!
How are you finding the choreography and all the movement?
R: Yeah. It's a very busy show. Everybody is full on.
G: It's so fast paced as well. I mean, we're knackered! It's running off and running back on after quickly adding props and changing, then you're straight back on and we're running off one side, pegging it round the back to come back on because it is so fast paced. But it is one of those shows the audience will be on the edge of their seats going “what is about to happen?” because it can go either way really. And it's got a few twists as well.
R: People will be like, “Ooh! I didn't expect that!”.
Are there particular parts of the show you are each looking forward to?
J: For me, mine is the end of Act One which is a song called 'Shine Like The Sun'. I love that song.
G: I love the sarcasm in the show. It's funny. I do like 'Shine Like The Sun', but I like all the numbers where the ensemble are there as well, because then you really are one whole group.
R: It's powerful isn't it?
G: Yes, whatever emotion someone is everyone picks up on it. And when we do things like 'I Just Might', it's a very softer song and the harmony behind it is just beautiful. It's lovely with really effective movement as well. But when they start boogying, like from the beginning with '9 to 5', it's just such an impact.
R: The audience will love it because they'll know straight away. It's the opening song.
J: And it's the number in the show that people will recognise as Dolly's.
R: Dolly Parton wrote them all, but obviously people will really pick up on '9 to 5'. And did you know, she got the rhythm for '9 to 5' with her acrylic nails? She sat there and did that (strums nails). And she used to say, “You can't do it, you ain't got acrylic!”.
Ha! We never knew that! Chris Murray is playing Mr Hart. How is he to work with?
G: He is great. So versatile. There are scenes where he has to get tied up, he has to throw himself to the floor and he's so good. He just gets stuck in. He's played other characters, like Bill Sykes in Oliver, but this one really is allowing him to show even more of what he really can do. He's brilliant.
Rachel has your professional experience helped?
R: The show I'm in, 'Forever and Blue Jeans', the people who run it and produce it are huge country people. When I was going for the part - thanks to these two who said “Go for Dolly!” - I asked [the producers] certain phrases, and how Dolly would be, because they met Dolly once.
They just said how little she was, how nice she was – she doesn't belt, it's all held back with a strong voice. For me, they've really helped on that side of it. And to have the help from people who have met her and done the country circuit, it's brilliant. Nashville and Memphis, they were there in the eighties and then they came over and toured. I've been with them for sixteen years, I love it.
Overall, why do you think audiences should come and see '9 to 5'?
J: It's got such a feel good factor. For a couple of hours, just come along and see some feel good singing and dancing, and take yourself away from the world that's happening out there.
R: The three of us with Chris, it is quite farcical. The speed of it and the delivery. It's funny. People will be laughing at it a lot. It really is feel good.
G: And when we get the audience in to bounce off, it'll be absolutely brilliant.
'9 to 5' is showing at The Kings Theatre, Southsea from 21st February - 25th February 2017. 7:30pm nightly with a matinée on Saturday afternoon. Advanced booking highly recommended.
Now opening for the second night in its run, Bench Theatre give us a taste of 1950s Ireland in their production of 'Sive'.
Southern Ireland. When matchmaker Tomasheen Sean Rua learns of the wealthy, old farmer Sean Dota's designs on marrying an 18 year old orphan girl, Sive, he approaches the girl's aunt and uncle to strike up a deal.
Set in the largely un-modernised areas of rural County Kerry, 'Sive' is a gritty exploration of the moral obligations of family weighed against one's need to survive and prosper.
Bench Theatre, the award winning local theatre company based in Havant's Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, present this acclaimed piece this week, running until Saturday. It follows a string of successful and well-received productions by the company.
Tickets are still available for the production, but are becoming increasingly limited in their availability. We've managed to get access to some fantastic rehearsal photos, which we've included below.
Be sure to book your tickets for this play and, as ever, let us know your thoughts.
'Sive' plays at the New Theatre Royal until Saturday 18th February 2017. Link to box office below.
In 2014 Britain gained the title of the ‘loneliness capital of Europe’, a disheartening subject which is the basis for Sandi Toksvig’s new stage play 'Silver Lining'. Make no mistake however, as this stunning piece of theatre could not be further removed from its depressing origins.
Set in an old people’s home in the ironically named Gravesend, five occupants find themselves battling with the forces of nature and the ever increasing water levels. They attempt to escape certain death after being abandoned by the emergency rescue services, and along the way swap playful anecdotes, memories and many, many laughs.
Sandi Toksvig’s writing is some of the best that has been seen in the British theatre for quite some time, and although jovial throughout, it really pulls no punches at exposing the harsh day to day reality of the UK’s elderly citizens.
To help highlight this generational divide was the appropriately exaggerated and youthful carer Hope, played wonderfully by Keziah Joseph, who brought a relentless enthusiasm to the part. Amanda Walker as dementia patient St Michael had the audience in hysterics with her expertly delivered one liners, matched with potentially the most heart-breaking and touching moment in the piece about the realities of her condition.
Maggie McCarthy and Joanna Monro as sisters May and June respectively displayed Toksvig’s typical humour we’ve come to know and love. The back and forth exchanges between the two brought further hysterics to the evenings proceedings, with McCarthy having some particularly delicious insults in her artillery. Leading the way in this extremely strong cast is Sheila Reid as Gloria, the slightly jaded, tech savvy ex landlady battling with depression. Devastating, truthful and side-splittingly funny are just a few ways to describe Reid’s performance and she alone is a reason enough to get along to watch this remarkable play.
It seems The New Theatre Royal is back on top form once again, with what looks to be an exciting upcoming catalogue of shows, fantastically kicked off with easily one of the best plays written in a long time. It’s extremely funny, but more importantly, it’s a message that desperately needs to be heard.
'Silver Lining' shows at the New Theatre Royal nightly until Saturday 18th February 2017. Matinée performance on Saturday at 2:30pm. Limited availability, advance booking recommended.
The world première tour of the play 'Silver Lining', penned by Sandi Toksvig and presented by English Touring Theatre, is now showing at the New Theatre Royal.
Imagine this: On one dark and stormy night in the upper day room of the Silver Retirement Home, five elderly ladies are trading stories of their remarkable lives. With the storm floods rising and no rescue team in sight, the ladies are faced with the sudden realisation that in order to survive they are going to have to do what they have done for their entire lives - do it themselves!
'Silver Lining' tells the tale of five extraordinary yet forgotten women, who come together one treacherous night to recreate 'The Great Escape - senior citizen style!
Penned by writer, actor, presenter and political activist Sandi Toksvig, the production is at the New Theatre Royal from Wednesday 15th until Saturday 18th February 2016, with a matinée performance on the Saturday and Thursday at 2:30pm.
Toksvig's previous writing for the stage includes the musical 'Big Night Out at the Little Sands Picture Palace' and 'The Pocket Dream'. Until last year she was the presenter of BBC Radio 4's 'The News Quiz' and in October 2016 she took over from Stephen Fry as the host of BBC television quiz show 'QI'. In addition to this, she is the joint founder of the Women's Equality Party which was established in March 2015.
Other cast members include Sheila Reid; Rachel Davies; Keziah Joseph; Maggie McCarthy; Joanna Munro and Amanda Walker. The production is directed by Rebecca Gatward.
Tickets are available now at the New Theatre Royal Box Office. Don't miss your chance to see this world première tour whilst it is in Portsmouth - and let us know your thoughts.
Here it is! The official trailer for Interalia Theatre's highly anticipated production of classic BBC comedy 'Yes, Minister', also raising funds for Comic Relief.
The Award-Winning Interalia Theatre make a welcome return to Ferneham Hall, and also star at the Station Theatre, with a unique adaptation of a true classic comedy.
Jim Hacker, MP for Birmingham East and a thoroughly decent chap, is appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs in the wake of his party’s general election victory. With his loyal advisors by his side, he takes up residence in Whitehall – but then comes up against the ‘creaking old bureaucratic machine’ of the Civil Service in the shape of the charming, but formidable, Sir Humphrey Appleby…
It isn’t long before an international crisis and trouble from Europe (what a surprise..!) tests Jim’s patience to the limit in this hilarious slice of satire and farce, specially adapted from episodes of the BAFTA Award-Wining series.
The production is produced with full approval of the original authors and will also be raising money for Comic Relief.
It opens at the Station Theatre in Hayling Island on Saturday 18th February, before continuing its run at Ferneham Hall from Sunday 19th to Wednesday 22nd February. Tickets are selling quickly, so booking sooner rather than later is highly recommended.
Interlia Theatre are presenting a production of classic BBC comedy 'Yes, Minister' at the Station Theatre and Ferneham Hall this month, and the show is also raising vital funds for charity Comic Relief.
It's one of the true comedy classics to emerge from our television screens: ‘Yes, Minister’ (and its subsequent ‘promotion’ to ‘Yes, Prime Minister’) ran on the BBC from 1980 to 1988. It was a winner of many awards for the series itself and for its cast, and was voted sixth in the famous poll of Britain’s Best Sitcom.
Interalia Theatre have received special permission this February to produce a brand-new stage adaptation of episodes from the series.
“I was so pleased we were allowed to do it,” says adaptor and director, Nick Scovell. “I was an avid fan of the series when it was on telly and loved every single episode. I had always wanted to do a stage version and now we are finally here, it’s just wonderful.”
Interalia Theatre’s production is based on three episodes from across the series, combining them with memorable moments to create one coherent story.
“The episodes we have adapted feature common threads that naturally follow after one another. They flow so well, they could almost have worked as a film version of the show!”
In the series Jim Hacker, MP for Birmingham East and a thoroughly decent chap, is appointed Minister for Administrative Affairs in the wake of his party’s general election victory. With his loyal advisors by his side, he takes up residence in Whitehall – but then comes up against the ‘creaking old bureaucratic machine’ of the Civil Service in the shape of the charming, but formidable, Sir Humphrey Appleby…
It isn’t long before an international crisis and trouble from Europe tests Jim’s patience to the limit in this hilarious slice of satire and farce.
“I wanted to find a story that reflected current political times, without updating the episodes," Nick explains. "The play is topical, without being direct, so the audience will be able to think it is happening now, even though the period is never referred to.”
“The writing by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn is so good. To have such wonderful source material to play with is a dream for any performer. It’s really very, very funny.”
The production opens at the Station Theatre on Hayling Island on Saturday February 18th, and then runs at Fareham’s Ferneham Hall from Sunday 19th to Wednesday 22nd February.
As always with a classic comedy and the high quality productions of Interalia Theatre, tickets are likely to sell quickly so booking in advance is recommended.
You can call the Station Theatre Box Office on 02392 466363 and the Ferneham Hall Box Office on 01329 231942. Online booking is also available, and we've handily provided links below.
The performances are nightly at 7.30pm and tickets are just £11.00. You won't want to miss it!