One of the first things you are greeted with in 9 to 5 the Musical is - fittingly - an enormous, glittering effigy of the show’s now-iconic title, followed shortly by a recorded video appearance from the grand dame of Country herself.

Lending the show an instant sprinkle of showbiz (not to mention the likability factor) as she croons into her seminal pop classic, Dolly welcomes the cast to the stage and gradually introduces us to the Tomlin, Fonda and, indeed, Parton, of this newest take on the musical adaptation of the 1980 workplace fem-com (careful, there…).

It sets the stage (quite literally) for the evening’s entertainment to come, and the labels here tick plenty of welcome boxes. Safe, funny, empowering musical buoyancy that, if a little familiar, is positively rhinestoned with razzmatazz and glittering production value, courtesy of the show’s recent London tenure (which still continues even as it takes to the road across the UK).

This isn’t the first version of the show to tour the UK; indeed, Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre - home of the new tour’s opening - housed it under much of the same creative team back in 2012. 

But this is 9 to 5 with some added West End overtime budget thrown in, and from the superb cast, tighter reworking of the book (with a new musical number added in) to the audacious, dazzling lighting and stage design, it shows, shines and shimmers in every facet of the production.

Simply put, the show has never looked, sounded nor played better.

Following mostly the same beats as the beloved 80s comedy, with some shrewd post-‘me too’ polishing of the script and a welcome injection of some British winks and nudges (did I just hear someone mention a ‘copper’?) 9 to 5 follows three female office workers who have reached the end of their collective tethers when it comes to their ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’ of a boss, Franklin Hart Jnr (Sean Needham). 

Office supervisor Violet (Louise Redknapp - appearing in select venues after heading up the West End cast) has been over-worked and overlooked for that big promotion one times too many. Busty ‘backwoods barbie’ Doralee (Georgina Castle) may be ‘a Country girl’s idea of glam’, but she’s a kind-hearted, married gal at that, and doesn’t taken kindly to being leered over by her boss, or ostracised by her colleagues because of his lies. And newcomer Judy (Love Island 2017 champ Amber Davies) is over men, period. Off of the back of a cheating husband (the aptly named 'Dick') dumping her for his secretary, the last thing she needs in her new (first) job is a boss who humiliates and belittles her.

And so the unlikely trio of femme fatales set out to right some wrongs, put the hilariously loathsome Hart in his place, and maybe even send out a few wider ripples of equality and empowerment within the 1980s workforce. Their journey will see them encounter sycophantic spies (Lucinda Lawrence stealing scenes aplenty as Hart’s enamoured assistant Roz), murderous mix-ups of mistaken identity and a smattering of hilarious set pieces …not least of all a hilarious new inclusion to a particularly important bedroom sequence.

It’s all set to a still-thumping soundtrack by Dolly herself, crammed with old classics (the titular hit itself, naturally, features prominently) as well as some recent favourites such as ‘Backwoods Barbie’, ‘Shine Like the Sun’ and ‘Let Love Grow’. Director Jeff Calhoun, original Book writer Patricia Resnik, and, heck, even Dolly herself, meanwhile, have tightened things up and generally made this 9 to 5 shift run smoother and punchier than ever - for instance, injecting the infamous ‘pot’ scene with a brand new song and dialogue to keep the funny coming and the pace flowing.

The cast assembled for the tour will vary depending on the venue chosen, but Birmingham audiences are lucky enough to get two of the West End production's recent leading talent. Louise Redknapp is an authoritative, commanding presence as Violet, injecting just enough jaded exhaustion into the character to keep her the right side of empathetic, whilst Amber Davies quickly sheds any preconceptions her Love Island label may carry by being genuinely sweet and endearing as the naive Judy, later emboldening her with gusto, and possessing quite the belt when it comes to some of the bigger numbers; her crescendo of ‘Get out and stay out’ being a roof-raising roar of a performance.

The DNA of Brian Conley’s take on Franklin Hart, meanwhile, can be felt in much of Sean Needham’s performance and direction as the odious boss, but he dives in with exquisite comic timing and physical chops, eliciting some of the night’s biggest laughs and best moments. The tour’s Doralee, meanwhile - an exceptional Georgina Castle - may be a little taller and thus further removed from your ‘typical’ Dolly, but she channels the Queen of Country effortlessly in tang and temperament, whilst still making the role confidently her own. Castle’s musical theatre experience is on full display here, and her funny, soulful and pitch-perfect Doralee proves to be one of the real standouts of the show.

As mentioned, Tom Rogers and Howard Hudson’s staging and lighting design is vivid, dynamic, and littered with plenty of 80s callbacks (particularly so come an Act 2 ‘makeover’ moment), and in conjunction with a fantastic ensemble, who keep the fizz-poppery of Dolly’s music bubbling along on stage throughout, there’s plenty to be dazzled and engaged by in even the show’s quieter ebbs.

A witty, feel-good book given some extra polish and even a new number to add to an already buoyant score, brought to the stage with West End-worthy production values and staging, and a lovable cast and ensemble giving it their all, 9 to 5 the Musical doesn’t stumble outta bed and tumble onto tour... it shines like the sun and bursts onto the stage with all the vim, colour, cheeky self-awareness and irrepressible feel-good of Dolly herself. 

RATING - ★★★★

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL plays at The Alexandra, Birmingham until Saturday 14th September.

Official Site / Box Office: 0844 871 3011