9 to 5: The Musical at TPAC 9.23.2010


“9 to 5 Makes Nashville Debut”


By Christian Scalise



Country Music legend/singer/songwriter/actress Dolly Parton is never one to disappoint her worldwide fan base with new and creative ideas and her latest venture (9 to 5: The Musical) is none other than a thrilling, show-stopping theatrical recreation of the infamous movie from the era of 1979 that featured Dolly Parton as “Doralee Rhodes,” Lily Tomlin as “Violet Newstead,” and Jane Fonda as “Judy Bernly.”


Winning the hearts of everyday working women nationwide upon its release on December 19th, 1980… 9 to 5 broke down barriers and shifted the tide that once kept women under the reigns of your typical egotistical, chauvinist, womanizing male bosses that dreaded the day that a self-assured and hardworking woman would use their talents to rise to the top of the working world breaking the “good ole boys” club right in two!  


The musical version initially premiered at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in September of 2008 and opened on Broadway on April 30th, 2009 and ran until September 6th, 2009. It was nominated for 15 Drama Desk Awards, the most received by a production in a single year. It was also nominated for four Tony Awards in 2009.


Dolly serves as the mastermind for the music and lyrics behind the production including new standards like the autobiographical “Backwoods Barbie,” “Joy To The Girls” and “Shine Like The Sun.” The fascinating aura and compelling career that defines Dolly Parton has continued to inspire millions of people to fulfill their very own dreams and turn them into a reality just like the superstar herself has through the years.


Kicking off it's touring debut at TPAC, the grand opening night brought in a jam-packed red carpet full of stars. Dolly Parton, Naomi Judd, Barbara Mandrell, Lynn Anderson, and many more came out to show their support for the Nashville tour stop and wish it well on the 2010-2011 journey across the nation.


The national touring cast has clearly changed in regards to the New York City based production; the adorable and sweet American Idol contestant, Country/Pop Music Singer/Songwriter and Broadway star Diana DeGarmo perfectly plays the role of “Doralee” complete with a sparkling personality and a whole lot of sex appeal, Dee Hoty portrays the strong and confident “Violet Newstead” and Mamie Parris takes on the sweet but absolutely naïve “Judy Bernly” while Joseph Mahowald is a dead ringer for the sexist and perverted “Franklin Hart, Jr.” I must say that I was very impressed with Dee’s portrayal of “Violet.” Her voice and mannerisms were so much like Lily Tomlin’s; you would have almost thought it was her twin up there on the stage.


With many adjustments from the Broadway version, mainly set production quality, the downscaled play offers an array of well choreographed dance numbers, phenomenal musical scores from a live orchestra and colorful set changes and costumes. Many of the scenes bring to life the hysterical and adventurous moments from the movie itself like the fantasy scene where all three women envision how they will kill their boss, or the scene where Franklin Hart, Jr is harnessed to leather and chains and strung to the ceiling by a garage door unit and propelled up and down with a remote.


I would not recommend families to take their younger viewers to this production because of the sexual innuendos and the course language. It is not suitable for young eyes and ears. The coolest part of the play is that the entire show is cleverly narrated by Dolly Parton herself from the very start to the finale. Dolly throws in plenty of wise cracking one-liners and a whole lot of her signature Southern Charm. She truly is a one of a kind entertainer and we sure hope to see more of her musically and theatrically in the years to come.


After the finale ended and the curtain closed, it quickly reopened much to the delight and surprise of the audience to find Dolly Parton herself standing center stage. Wearing a black and white fitted jacket with a short black skirt, Dolly cracked a few jokes with the audience and told them how proud she was of the 9 to 5 musical. “I’ve been here for the last few weeks during rehearsals and I am so thrilled to see this come to life.” She even sang a few lines of “9 to 5” before taking a bow and departing the stage.  


We’d like to thank Lucy Liles and all involved at TPAC and the 9 to 5 Musical production for allowing us to attend the play at their beautiful theater (Andrew Jackson Hall) in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday September 23rd, 2010.