After working as a professional in the late 80s and early 90s, Stephanie Prince is delighted to be treading the boards with SO Musical Theatre in Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 The Musical.
They are offering five performances at the Barn Theatre, Southwick from May 8-11, under director/musical director Simon Gray.
Stephanie, who was part of the ensemble for both Les Mis and Oliver! in London, now works in administration at a mental-health and addiction clinic in Hove: “I don’t work professionally any more. Circumstances changed for me. It is quite an insecure profession, and I felt I had to get a proper job, shall we say!
“I have dipped in and out over the last few years with the Brighton Festival, but the Barn Theatre is just around the corner from me, and it is a lovely community theatre. I have known Simon for many, many years and we had a chat about his upcoming production of 9 to 5 and he said ‘How do you fancy playing Violet?’ I didn’t really know anything about it, and I hadn’t even seen the Dolly Parton film. But I listened to the music and I watched the film, and I absolutely loved it. You think it is just a bit of fluff, but actually it has got quite a topical modern message.
“I am playing Violet, the lady who already works there. She has been there for 15 years and is trying to work her way up. She has been a secretary and is now a supervisor and is trying to get the role of the top dog, but she is pipped at the post for the promotion by another employee who is male. He thinks it is all to do with the old boys’ club, and events unfurl from there.”
One thing leads to another and Violet ends up convinced she has poisoned her lying, sexist, bigoted, egotistical boss, Mr Hart, with rat poison. The three women, Violet and her two colleagues, end up kidnapping Mr Hart and holding him hostage while they try to prove that he is embezzling money and stealing form the company. And while they hold him hostage, they start making some changes in the office…
“Violet is a great character. She is feisty. She is ballsy. She speaks her mind. She is very supportive of her staff in a way that Mr Hart is not. She is a single parent to a teenager, so she has got all that to contend with as well as working full time. It is a fantastic role. There is some fantastic dialogue, some very good one-liners. And I get to sing a lovely duet and a lot of company numbers and trios with the two other girls.
“Funnily enough, I am in a similar situation to Violet. I am a single parent of a teenager. I feel there are quite some parallels. I speak her lines and I feel that I understand her. She resonates with me, just as she will resonate with a lot of women who are trying to break the glass ceiling.”
In the role of Judy is Sharon Starr, and, as Hart’s secretary Roz, is Samantha Clements, both Brighton-based performers who have appeared in many productions with local theatre companies, including several at the Barn Theatre.
In the role of Doralee (played by Dolly Parton in the film) is Lea Spells who also choreographs.