Marina Prior is delighted to be back on stage, transporting appreciative audiences into a funny, feelgood place.
After an enforced hiatus of two-and-a half years 9 to 5 the musical, in which she plays one of three lead characters - de facto office manager Violet Newstead - finally premiered in Sydney in February and is now in full swing at Brisbane and destined for Melbourne next month..
"My character has got a lot of sassy one-liners, and the immediate response of an audience...is a great buzz, and I love it," Prior says.
"And it's really uplifting to see everyone standing up and singing and dancing at the end.
"It just feels good to be instrumental in the joy that they walk out the door with."
Inspired by the 1980 film that starred Dolly Parton and featured her hit single, the production is a locally-cast version of one that ran in London's West End in 2019 and early 2020.
According to Prior, it contains strong traces of Parton, who wrote new songs for the script when it was created back in 2008. "Dolly's presence is very much felt in the show," she says, enigmatically.
The work sees Prior share the limelight with performers Casey Donovan and Erin Clare as mistreated office workers plotting revenge on their villainous, sexist boss, played by Eddie Perfect.
Prior loves the camaraderie between the three and the fact they are protagonists rather than romantic interests.
The film, which was initiated and produced by Jane Fonda and also starred comedian Lily Tomlin, grossed more than $US100 million worldwide, established Parton in the mainstream and spawned a sitcom.
Written by Patricia Resnick, who also adapted the musical script, the comedy, was inspired by activist organisation the 9to5 National Association of Working Women, and packed a fair political punch within its zany, toe-tapping format.
While the electric typewriters, adding machines and office ashtrays that formed the backdrop to the action in 1980 might have gone by the wayside, the portrayal of workplace discrimination continues to strike a chord with audiences in 2022.
"It's packaged in such a palatable way, such a fun way that it's not preachy, but it actually does make people kind of think," Prior says.
While some reviewers have questioned aspects of the show's sexual politics, they have almost universally recommended its exuberance, fun, design, catchy songs and show-stopping performances, particularly those of the lead trio.
After more than two years without work, Prior has hit the ground running in her own working life, which, with eight 9 to 5 performances a week.
When the show closes in Adelaide in November, the soprano will launch into a "fast and furious" national tour of classics show 'The 2 of Us' with tenor David Hobson.
"It's kind of feast or famine," says the performer, who had no income at all over the past two years. "But I think all of us in the show are even more grateful to be doing it every night."