Supas’ 9 to 5 – 8 December 2022, Sheffield University Drama Studio

Review by Claire Taranaski.

It’s been nearly four years since I last reviewed SUPAS and have been at the Drama Studio and this musical, probably twice as old as many if not all of the cast, reminded me what I was missing and that what I have always enjoyed about reviewing student theatre is being there at the start of the careers of some great musical theatre talent.

Based on the 1979 film starring Dolly Parton (who provides the on screen narration for the start and end of the show) this musical sadly is just as relevant today as back then but is also still as funny, sexy and inspirational for audience members everywhere.

The entire cast and production team, led by director William Leggetter, must be praised for bringing this show to the stage, mastering the difficult accents perfectly, with superb comic timing and choreography, thanks to Alice Copestick, that got stronger and stronger as the show went on, with the full ensemble being at their empowering best for “Change It”.

However as I mentioned I love spotting future talent and all three female leads Liv Slater as Violet, Abi Yates as Doralee and Abbie Hand as Judy were incredible and would not have been out of place in a professional tour of the show, bringing to life the three women, getting the audience fully on their sides, with amazing stage presence and fantastic voices each in their own amazing ways. Liv mastered both the not out of place on a Disney soundtrack of “Potion Notion” and the diva vocals for “One Of The Boys”, Abi would have made Dolly herself proud with “Backward Barbie” and Judy brought a passion and vulnerability to her West End quality vocals in the likes of “Get Out And Stay Out”. I can’t wait to see these three perform again soon and will be keeping an eye out for them in future SUPAS programmes and on the stage for years to come.

Talking of the programme, after being away from SUPAS for so long the only name I recognised was Nathan Sloane, with a search of our website coming up with six previous mentions, and he continued not to disappoint excelling as the sexist manager from hell Franklin Hart Jr who gets his comeuppance. Nathan continues to show he is destined for a career in musical theatre whilst giving his up and coming co-stars the chance to shine.

Other cast members who deserve a special mention for their strong performances include Jess Dovey as Roz who balanced bossiness with unrequited love and fun sexiness in her own musical number, George Maher as Doralee’s husband Dwayne, with the two showing great on stage chemistry, and Zara Walton as alcohol loving office worker Margaret whose timing was spot on.

The audience might not have seen them but the 16 piece band and musical director Charlie Harmer also deserves high praise for the great musical numbers throughout. You all sounded amazing whilst not overpowering the vocal talents.

Despite a couple of minor technical difficulties this was a great production by all involved, showcasing their talents and providing inspiration for the future graduates in the audience as they think about how they want to work, and turning them into Dolly fans along the way.

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