Tag: Dolly Parton

REVIEW: Nine To Five

Come for Dolly, stay for the powerhouse performances

By Kiana Emmett

In 1980’s America, three women work together to dismantle the ‘boys club’ that keeps them confined. Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 is a sobering and inspiring look at female empowerment. Set up by Dolly herself as a world ‘different to our own’ at the start of the show, the misogynistic constraints of the corporate world, and our society as whole, are put on full display in how little we have changed in the time since the original source material. A love letter to the power of female friendship and strength, 9 to 5 is a glittering production full of ‘Hart’.

Led by some of the finest performers in Australian musical theatre, 9 to 5 is strong vocally. Between the dazzling harmonies, both in an ensemble context such as the titular number and between the principles in beautifully intimate moments like ‘I Just Might’.

Marina Prior is a force as Violet, confident and reliable. Although she seemed to have some issues with sound in the opening number, she well and truly made up for it in her jazzy solo number ‘One Of the Boys’, where Violet shares her aspirations to break-through the gender disparity in management.

Erin Clare was dynamic and thoroughly engaging as the Dolly-esque Doralee, bring charisma and heart to the role, as well as a killer set of pipes! Her struggles as an employee encountering harassment in the workplace was strikingly poignant and well delivered.

Casey Donovan was a knockout as Judy, vastly different to other musical theatre roles she has taken on. She excelled in not falling into the trap of treating Judy as the victim, but instead portrayed a strong, independent woman who needed the support and clarity in order to fully realise that independence. Her act two showstopper ‘Get Out and Stay Out’ rightfully had her audience on their feet, both as a result of her moving simultaneous depiction of vulnerability and strength, as well as her otherworldly vocal prowess.

Stealing the show however was the iridescent and magnetic Caroline O’Connor as the secretary Roz Keith, obsessed with her boss. She had the audience hook, line and sinker, following her every move in her limited time on stage. With her impeccable comedic timing, incredible dance capabilities and a brassy musical theatre belt that is second to none, she had the audience in stitches in her big number ‘Heart to Hart’. O’Connor’s characterisation is a masterclass in performance and resulted in an almost instant standing ovation when she came out for her bow.

As the egotistical Franklin Hart Jr. Eddie Perfect is hilarious. He treads the line between unlikability, with outdated lines that bring a hush over the crowd by the sheer audacity of them, and hilarity. He is a great example of an irredeemable character, that has no real full circle, or remorse for his actions. He is uncannily able to present this farce of a human, who is so exaggerated and yet as an audience we can so easily compare him to someone we have met.

The set design and lighting work in tandem to create the true 80’s feel of the piece, with the use of colour in the second act a nod to the change in leadership, and celebration of diversity in the workplace.

The ensemble were a strong unit that were used well in their limited capacity as other office members. The level of talent and commitment to choreography was stunning, and the choreography wowed from the opening number through to the conclusion of the piece whenever used.

9 to 5 guises as a night of fun, and it truly is so much fun, but at its core, this new production is a commentary of the tumultuous social landscape, and the inequality faced by women in the workplace. It also stands to share the power we have to ‘change it’ if we all commit to the creation of the greater good. Come for Dolly, stay for a brilliant night of powerhouse performers, a powerful message and a smile that will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.

9 to 5 is currently playing at the State Theatre through September 16th. Tickets available at: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2022/musical/9-to-5-the-musical

Photography by David Hooley

REVIEW: Melbourne Festival Presents LAURA MARLING

Warm and winning performance from young international artist

By Jessica Cornish

Draped in plain black linen and hugging an acoustic guitar, award-winning UK artist Laura Marling performed in the beautiful Hamer Hall as a part of the 2015 Melbourne Festival. Her stunning warm vocals filled the venue, complemented by her unobtrusive band mates upstage in the speckled light.

Laura Marling

The night began with a barrage of some of her more intense songs all in minor keys, and these were augmented by the stunning movement and colour splashed across the stage from the clever lighting design. All evening the lighting was vibrant and energetic, constantly changing and employing interesting lighting angles and looks or incorporating use of silhouettes and shadows.

Reminiscent of an intuitive storyteller rather than a mere folk performer, Marling’s songs have a genuine nature and often seem open-ended, never allowing us to predict when they will end, before we experience the sudden abruptness of silence. In between songs she was quietly spoken, and preferred to let her songs speak for themselves rather than explaining how they came to be or what inspired what particular composition.

She performed a catalogue of her more well-known pieces including my personal favourite “Ghost” (though she somehow managed to stumble on the words!) Laura charmingly explained afterwards she was distracted as she was trying desperately not to accidentally sing ‘shat’, which can sometimes amalgamates from the words ‘hat’ and ‘sat’ in the lyrics. She also professed Dolly Parton was a hero of hers (good taste, I have to say) and performed a wonderful cover of ‘Do I ever cross your mind?’ while impressing the audience with her new finger-picking technique, which specifically required the growth of her mutant right thumb nail.

Sometimes the lyrics were a little bit lost in the mix, but her vocal quality was continuously stunning. She has a rich, warm tone that sat nicely above the twangy acoustic guitars, and was a constant pleasure to watch and hear. If she ever comes back to Australia, I will be excited to see what this young British modern folk singer will then have in store.


Image by Deirdre O’Callaghan

REVIEW: Hope is the Saddest for MICF

Don’t let the title deter you…

By Myron My

Hope Is The Saddest debuts at La Mama as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and revolves around three people, Hope (Michelle Robin Anderson), Theo (Jeffrey Jay Fowler) and Marion (Natalie Holmwood) – who, after a chance encounter, are inexplicably drawn into each other’s lives for better or for worse.

What follows is each individual’s attempt at finding hope in their lives and how they help each other in some way, shape or form to achieve this. Through this hope they experience happiness, joy, regret, sadness, anger and despair.

Hope is the Saddest

Despite not actually appearing in the play (as such), Dolly Parton’s presence and influence on these people is obvious with her songs creating the soundtrack to the show, constant references being made to Parton and the life-size cardboard stand-in of her on stage that assures she will remain omnipresent throughout.

All three actors excel in their depictions of Hope, Theo and Marion and really capture their essence and bring them to life, which is not as difficult a task for an actor when you have a script as strong as this. Fowler’s script does not allow for any words to be wasted. Everything spoken is vital to the progression of the story and he has endowed the three characters with three distinct voices. There is also a perfect blend of humour and sadness in this script, just like life, and includes such cheeky dialogue gems as “just get over being gay and stick your tongue in…”

The La Mama stage is divided up into three locations, and considering how small the space is this would not have been an easy thing to devise. Using a large dollhouse to represent Marion’s home was an ingenious idea.

There are a number of interesting narrative devices used in Hope Is The Saddest to further the story that are worth acknowledging. There is the standard dialogue between characters but there are moments where all three actors speak in unison to the audience like a Greek chorus, a split-scene of letter reading and of course, lip-syncing and dancing to some Dolly songs.

Hope Is The Saddest is a beautiful comedic story interspersed with the harsh realities of life. And pancakes. And of course, Dolly Parton.

Venue: La Mama, 205 Faraday St, Carlton

Season: Until 14 April | Wed, Sun 6.30pm | Thu-Sat 7.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au

Review: DIXIE LONGATE in My Bags Went Where?

Time flies with Dixie

By Bradley Storer

Dixie Longate

Rushing onstage, suitcase trolley in grip, the harangued Dixie Longate enthusiastically waved to the audience at her Melbourne International Comedy Festival show. This drag-diva cousin of Dolly Parton chattered a mile a minute about the horrible flight and how the rest of her luggage ended up in a trailer park in Frankston, while unpacking her signature stocks of Tupperware.

About halfway through Dixie remarked on how her southern accent often makes her rapid chatter unintelligible – she vowed to slow down, but unfortunately the pace of this opening monologue was sometimes so fast I couldn’t understand what she was saying (she used this later in the show deliberately to more comedic effect). The jokes in this first part came hard and fast, but none could seem to land and raise the audience above a quick chuckle, which left me slightly worried.

However, once Dixie got through her opening section and unleashed herself onto the audience the show began to really fly. She eagerly interacted with audience members, and ingeniously used comments from the audience to jump from random tangent to tangent so quickly it was hilariously mindboggling, whether it be bottling lesbianism as a cure for ADD to how gay app Grindr was affecting the war in Iraq.

The disappointingly small audience actually helped make the evening far more intimate in the big venue, as though we were all actually a group of friends gathering to hear Dixie’s outrageous tales. And what a collection of tales they are! Using a shocking fact about Sarah Palin as a jumping off point, Dixie spins anecdotes all related to her world travels as part of her business. The good-hearted and foul-mouthed woman simply has the gift of the gab, relating her experiences on stealing kidneys in Vegas, multi-racial Nativity scenes and how hard it is to get a drink in Britain. She weaves convoluted and epic stories in such a way that they seem entirely spontaneous, and draws the thematic ties of all her tales so cleverly together into a conclusion that leaves you with an indelible grin. An uproarious hour with a woman so charming and witty that it becomes almost saddening to leave.

DATES: 28th March – 14th April

VENUE: Forum Theatre – Downstairs, Cnr Flinders & Russell St

TIME: 8:30pm (7:30 Sun)

TICKETS: Wed-Thurs & Sun $30, Fri & Sat $34, Conc (n/a Sat) $28, Group (8+, n/a Sat) $28, Laugh Pack (n/a Sat) $28, Tightarse Tue $28

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 660 013, www.comedyfestival.com.au , Melbourne Town Hall Box Office or Forum Box Office.

REVIEW: Sarah-Louise Young in CABARET WHORE

Lady is a vamp!

By Bradley Storer

The audience members were met at the door of the Loft at Chapel off Chapel by a flamboyantly friendly woman named Sammy Mavis Jnr., a country diva with a racy sense of humour, who happily helped seat people all the while introducing herself to everyone and chatting away like old friends.

Finally she took to the stage and welcomed us all to Cabaret Whore, before launching into Dolly Parton-style songs about her childhood sex-capades and her current career as a porn star. While understandably shocked, the audience laughed uproariously.

 British cabaret star Sarah-Louise Young brings five personas to life in this character-based cabaret. Aside from Sammy Mavis, the show includes a washed up wannabe West End diva, a Bjork-style Russian performance artist (allowing Young to show off her amazing range) and a dramatically masochistic French chanteuse.

Young has crafted incredibly individuated and distinct personalities for each character, and her remarkably versatile vocals allow her to glide from country to Broadway to French chanson worthy of Piaf with ease.

One of the highlights of this performance was watching the enthusiasm with which Young interacted with the audience members – not a member of the front row left unspoken to (or in one section, called upon to repair a microphone stand) but the warmth which she radiates at every moment makes this a joy.

Young is truly a star, with outstanding vocal and comedic abilities. At the end of the evening, Young emerged from behind her changing screen in only a dressing gown and charming self-deprecation before encoring with a number from her recent tenure in Fascinating Aida, reinforcing her sheer stage presence without trappings.

All this makes a show not to be missed, so see her before she leaves!

Dates: 22-24 June 9.00pm

Venue: Chapel off Chapel                                               

Tickets: $40 Full, $35 Concession

Booking: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Phone: 03 8290 7000