THE Alhambra is finally back in action - and for a delighted opening night audience it was good to be back!

Bradford's beautiful theatre re-opened last night, after an 18-month closure due to Covid, and who better to welcome us back than Dolly Parton? The country legend appeared on screen to introduce 9 to 5 The Musical, a sassy celebration of womanhood that had us on our feet.

Based on the 1980 film about three office workers seeking revenge on their sexist boss, 9 to 5 is of its time but also a show for Me Too times. It's cartoonish - endearingly so, although I could've done without the daft slapstick corpse-on-a-trolley scene - but packs a punch in its vision of a workplace with flexible hours and pastoral care. Some of the humour is a bit toe-curling, but in an Eighties period piece it fits, and there are reminders that some things haven't really moved on. When Violet, the office supervisor passed over for promotion in favour of younger male colleagues, says of equal pay: "In 10 years time this won't be an issue" there was a collective eyebrow-raising sigh in the auditorium.

This show rests on three women who each want rid of their misogynist monster of a boss. Violet wants to be CEO, but is stuck making his coffee. Doralee is sick of his casual sexual harassment and Judy is publicly ridiculed by him on her first day in the office.

Louise Redknapp was a class act as Violet; a gifted comic actress and totally convincing as a woman more than capable of rising to the top, but frustratingly held back by old-school policy. Her showstopper, One of the Boys, was a treat.

Stephanie Chandos was a scene-stealing Doralee; channelling the mighty Dolly as a feisty country girl much misunderstood, beautifully lamented in her touching performance of Backwoods Barbie. And Vivian Panka shone as Judy, bruised by a failed marriage but waking up to her potential. She has a fabulous voice and her rousing delivery of Get Out and Stay Out, aimed at Judy's cheating husband, was a highlight for me. Excellent performances too from Sean Needham as panto villain boss Hart, who lets it all hang out in possibly one of musical theatre's most jaw-dropping scenes, and Julia J Nagle who had us in stitches as his assistant Roz, her passion blazing beneath a tweedy two-piece.

With a fabulous young ensemble, and Dolly Parton's toe-tapping score, 9 to 5 is hugely entertaining. A frothy celebration of feminism, but relevant and empowering nonetheless.

Thank you Bradford Theatres for our safe return to this much-missed venue.

Runs until Saturday, September 11.