DOLLY PARTON Birthday Appearance 9 to 5 The Musical’ in Chicago tonight
DOLLY PARTON, the 65-year-old American country singer, is set to make a birthday appearance at a showing of ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ in Chicago tonight (19th January 2011) according to the Chicago Sun Times. The musical, which Parton wrote her first Broadway score for, is currently midway through a national tour.
In 1980, Dolly Parton starred on the big-screen movie 9 to 5. The movie celebrated its 30th anniversary in December. In the movie, Dolly Parton plays one of three female employees of an egotistical, lying, sexist, hypocritical bigot boss. The trio find a way to turn the tables on him. The movie has been made into a musical and is coming to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri on February 8-20, 2011.
When “9 to 5: The Musical,” the screen-to-stage Broadway musical closely based on the 1980 comedy starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and, of course, Parton herself appeared on Broadway in 2009, the producers were faced with the Dixie Stampede problem. The movie — with its beloved title song about tumbling out of bed to face the quotidian drudgery of office work — is inextricably linked with Parton, who wrote all the music and lyrics in the score and whose personality imbues the entire show.
Yet Parton could not, for obvious reasons, be there in person. And whereas Parton’s fans in Pigeon Forge might have been happy with a video, that was deemed a tad too tacky for Broadway.
Not any more. The show did not do so well on Broadway. And the national touring production of “9 to 5” features Parton herself. A lesson has been learned from the Dixie Stampede.
“We felt people really wanted to see Dolly,” said Mike Isaacson of Fox Theatricals, the producer of the show. And thus at the road version of “9 to 5: The Musical,” which opens in Chicago Wednesday night, Dolly they will see.
“I am the face of the clock.” said Parton, in a recent phone interview. “I talk about the 1970s over the vamp of ‘9 to 5.’ I just like being able to welcome people to the show.”
A beloved figure in industry circles — where her hard work, humility, business smarts and multifarious creative talents are all widely respected — Parton is known for her hands-on involvement. Isaacson said Parton showed up for auditions for the tour, first terrifying the actresses who were called back and then putting them at ease.
“She’d just shout out ‘Hi, I’m Dolly,’ said Isaacson, recreating the moment when Parton’s hand rose and famous East Tennessee twang rang out through the rehearsal space.
“I’ve been working this ‘9 to 5′ job for 30 years,” Patron said, explaining her presence. “I feel like I know these characters by heart.”
Parton, of course, is one of those artists whom people think they know but is, in fact, difficult to categorize. “I really don’t consider this a country musical, “she said of “9 to 5.” “The only country song in it is ‘Backwoods Barbie.’ Sure, there’s a little Dolly flavor to all my music. But people had a preconceived notion that if I wrote it, it had to be country.”
Those were people, presumably, who were unaware that Whitney Houston’s massive hit “I Will Always Love You” was penned and first recorded by Parton. Not only is country a malleable notion, but there is plenty of the big city in Parton.
The touring production, Parton says, has a “cozier feeling” that the Broadway prototype, which felt overblown and missing its roots. And the show, which is directed by Jeff Calhoun and now stars Dee Hoty, no longer has to worry about Broadway pundits. It is travelling to the heartland where it is more likely to reach its natural audience.
But if you talk to folks at the Dixie Stampede, and at Dollywood, they’ll tell you that Dolly does show up quite regularly at those locales. She might not be able to be everywhere at once, but she knows how to choose her moments to appear in three dimensions.
Chicago is a high-profile city — a second opening, really for “9 to 5.” The Chicago Bears are currently sucking up a lot of oxygen in town and sometimes, video is not enough. Dolly Parton didn’t get to be Dolly Parton without an innate sense of those moments.
And thus Wednesday night at the Bank of America, a red carpet will be rolled out in front of the theater. An American icon is expected to make her entrance and head backstage. And when the curtain rises, the welcome will be personal.