Performer takes on the secretary role made famous by Dolly Parton
The last time Bonnie Langford was in Liverpool it was to rehearse her way into the touring production of Spamalot! as the Lady of the Lake.
And if she feels a sense of déjà vu when she returns this month, in 9 to 5, that won’t be surprising.
“We’ve got a Scouser coming into the show, Mark Moraghan,” she said. “He’ll be rehearsing while we’re in Liverpool because he’s taking over the part of Franklin Hart.”
Hart, of course, is the baddie – the dastardly boss who receives his comeuppance at the hands of his exasperated female underlings in this stage musical version of the hit movie.
Two Pints of Lager’s Natalie Casey and Mamma Mia! mum Jackie Clune are among the workers determined to get even, while Bonnie plays office supervisor Roz Keith.
“She’s the only person who likes work in its original state because she’s rather lusting after the boss,” said the 48-year-old. “Completely unrequited love of course.
“She’s a bit of a control freak and also spends time looking at her boss and fantasising about him. Not that he realises it at all.”
In the original film, country music star Dolly Parton played Hart’s secretary and sang the theme tune, which became one of her biggest hits.
For the stage musical, premiered on Broadway in 2009, she penned all the musical numbers.
“A lot of people think it’s her songs put around a story, but it’s not,” said Bonnie. “One of the songs, Backwoods Barbie, she’s recorded before. But other than that they’re all original.”
There’s even a new number written specifically for the UK tour.
The movie came out 32 years ago, and for the most part rampant sexism has since been driven out of the workplace. The show is ‘very much a period piece’ agrees the actress. While the inside of an office isn’t her natural habitat, had she ever worked for a boss that’s (in 9 to 5’s words) a ‘sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot’?
“Most likely,” said Bonnie. “There are people like that in our industry.
“But it’s a little bit different because I think you’re able to be a little bit more individual, so you can find your way perhaps working around those people. But we’ve all come across them, which is why the show works. It’s a way of female empowerment I guess – in a kind of crazy way. They do get the better of this sexist man.”
Bonita Langford has been in the showbiz industry since she was 15 months old. At six she won Opportunity Knocks, and her early work included Just William and Bugsy Malone while she was a companion to two Timelords in Doctor Who.
In more recent years she’s taken leading stage roles including Roxie Hart in Chicago, Charity in Sweet Charity and Rumpleteazer in the original cast of Cats.
In 9 to 5 she’s joined by 18-year-old Sasi Strallen – one of three actress nieces.
Could this be the start of a dynasty?
“I think some people go into the family business and that’s how it is,” she said. “All the girls are extremely talented.”
The Empire in Liverpool stages 9 to 5 from January 14-19. Call 0844 871 3017 or visit www.atgtickets.com/liverpool.