The countdown is over as 9 to 5 opening night looms in Longford's Backstage Theatre

Jessica Thompson


Jessica Thompson


The countdown is over as 9 to 5 opening night looms in Longford's Backstage Theatre

The full cast of 9 to 5 Picture: Michelle Ghee

After months of preparation and planning, St Mel's Musical Society is finally getting ready to hit the stage with this year's production, 9 to 5.

Cast and crew have been working 9 to 5 so that they can bring one of the best feelgood musicals to the Longford stage, featuring music from Dolly Parton and, if the cast is anything to go by, this year's production sounds utterly unmissable.

And, with tickets already sold out for the nine performances, it's looking like the people of Longford agree.

“This musical really shows what it was like for women in the workplace back in the 70s,” said Valerie Nolan who is taking on the leading role of Violet in this year's show.

“They were treated like second class citizens. But it’s a lot of fun to do and it’s a really good show. It's so funny,” she added.

Read also: Natasha working round the clock for St Mel's Musical Society's production of 9 to 5 in Longford's Backstage Theatre

Violet Newstead is the senior office supervisor of the company and is a very enjoyable role, Valerie explained.

“She’s like the old lady in the office. She keeps the show running. She’s the single mother of a teenager. And she’s become quite hard because women in the 70s and 80s were always side-stepped when it came to promotion,” she said. 

“So Violet has sort of built a wall up and become really hard and sarcastic. But as the show goes on, she sort of softens and you can see the walls coming down a bit. But she’s afraid to let go.

“She’s a brilliant character with some really brilliant scenes. She’s so sarcastic - a bit like me in a way! Everyone keeps saying that,” Valerie laughed.

“It’s a really good, fun part to play. And with the other two girls, we sort of bounce off each other and it’s really good fun.”

The other two girls are Judy Bernly, portrayed by the very talented Natasha FitzPatrick Brady, and Doralee Rhodes - the Dolly Parton character played by Eimear Reynolds.

Read also: Longford's Paul Hennessy stepping into leading male role for 9 to 5

Together, the three women aim to get back at their boss, Franklin Hart, a role which is expertly portrayed by Paul Hennessy.
“Poor Paul gets an awful doing,” Valerie laughed.

“It’s so funny how the three women gang up on the boss. I don’t know whether people will be shocked or not… but they’ll be in stitches!”

Valerie is no stranger to Longford's stage, having appeared in several Musical Society productions in the past. 9 to 5 is her fifth consecutive production and she is enjoying every minute of it.

Valerie got the opportunity to play her first principal part as Alice Beineke in The Addams Family in 2016, excelling in her delightful performances, and she returned to Backstage Theatre to further acclaim a year later in the role of Sylvia in All Shook Up.

This year is a big one for her, though, as she gets to play one of the three lead roles in 9 to 5 - and belt out some epic numbers in the process.

“There’s one really big song I get to sing,” she said.

“It’s called One of the Boys and it’s a real Broadway, tap-dancing kind of song. It’s so much fun to do. And then there’s another song where she turns into Snow White and all the rest of the cast are involved - it’s the complete opposite.

“And then one of the opening songs, I’m showing Judy around the office. Judy is the new girl and I sort of take her under my wing.

“So those are the main songs I get to sing. It’s fairly intensive. I’ve never had this many lines before. There are so many lines. But I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

9 to 5 will open at the Backstage Theatre this Friday, April 5, at 8pm. Tickets are completely sold out, but for cancellation information, contact the Backstage Theatre box office on 043 33 47888.

Read next: Eimear Reynolds channels her inner Dolly Parton for St Mel's Musical Society, Longford production of 9 to 5

Pictured above: The cast of St Mel's Musical Society's production of 9 to 5: Back row (l to r): Mags Walsh, Grainne Fox, Dylan Murray, Lorcan O’Brien, Cormac Gobl, Paul Hennessy, Oisin O’Reilly, Conor Lynn-McLoughlin, Angela O’Callaghan and Maria Dunne. Third row (l to r): Barbara Donlon, Denise McNamara-Flood, Dearbhaile Barrins, Emma Thompson, Daniel Penrose, Niamh Gallagher, Michelle Kelly Conlon, Valerie Nolan, Natasha Brady, Anna Moorhead and Cathy Lenehan. Second row (l to r): Alison Brennan, Chantelle Yorke, Olivia Whelan, Alanna McKeon, Niamh Dempsey, Niamh O’Brien, Eimear Reynolds and Amy Oates. Front row (l to r): Sylvia Johnston, Rosemary Connolly, Orla Bishop, Casey Rowley, Kate Breslin, Erin Heavey and Iarlaith O’Rourke. Missing from the photo are John Kelly and Kym Phillips PICTURE: MICHELLE GHEE