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'9 to 5' musical gets a depoliticized tweak

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9to5premier_l

9to5premier_lThe Broadway-bound musicalization of 9 to 5 had its official premiere in Los Angeles over the weekend, with one only one significant difference from the version seen in previews a week earlier. The new stage show ends as the 1980 movie did, by explaining what happens to the main characters in years to come. Originally, the script had the Doralee character — played by Dolly Parton in the film and Megan Hilty on stage — explaining that she and her Texan husband had gone to work for George W. Bush, until they realized that he too was “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” (a line used throughout both the screenplay and stage show to refer to a bad boss). That jibe got a huge cheer from preview audiences…and also grumbling afterward from some less appreciative attendees. “That was not, I don’t think, a right thing to do, and a lot of the fans were offended by it,” Dolly Parton told EW.com. The apolitical star wrote the score for the new musical, and not the dialogue in question, although she took some heat for it. “It was just meant to be funny. But we don’t want to offend half the people in the house, when I figure half are Republican and half are Democrat. So they took that out and use a line [borrowed from] something I use [in concert].” Now, Doralee’s new, nonpartisan fate is that she “briefly considered running for president, but realized she was too late. Bigger boobs had already beaten her to the White House.”

Parton had an unscheduled cameo on premiere night, thanks to a long technical snafu that brought the curtain down and lights up just 20 minutes into the first act. For the first 10 minutes of the time-out, Parton visited with her costars from the original movie, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman. Afterward, she got up and entertained the crowd for eight minutes, as she had done during a similar breakdown on the first night of previews, leading the crowd in a sing-along of “9 to 5” and talking about the show’s origins. “Thank you for being kind and understanding,” Parton told the crowd, as ticketholders in both balconies charged to the railings to get a look at her. “I’m glad I’m a big showoff so we can pass a little bit of time.” Acknowledging that it had been 29 years since the movie was shot, Parton said, “Somebody asked, well, why didn’t you and Lily and Jane be in the play? I said it’s still called 9 to 5, not 95.” Having run out of patter, Parton suggested that she sing “I Will Always Love You” when she received word that the problem had been fixed. The crowd groaned, wanting another number. “No, no, no, let’s do that when we break down again!” she quipped.

Parton, Fonda, and Tomlin had reunited a few years back for a DVD commentary about the movie and subsequent party, but Coleman, their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss,” hadn’t taken part. So, when Coleman first entered the stars’ row at the Ahmanson Theatre, Fonda literally jumped up and down with glee as she greeted him. “Why weren’t you out there (on the red carpet), talkin’?” Coleman asked Fonda, who’d already been seated. “I didn’t know I was supposed to — I just walked in,” Fonda told him. But there were plenty of photo opportunities backstage afterward with both the movie and stage casts. Allison Janney, the tallest and leggiest member of the new ensemble (she plays the Tomlin role), crouched to get in frame with some of her costars and forebears. “You got the timbre — the timbre of her voice!” Fonda maveled to Broadway star-in-the-making Megan Hilty, on her vocal resemblance to Parton. “This is surreal,” Hilton kept repeating. Mark Kudisch, who plays the boss in the show, had the movie’s stars autograph the football he tosses around on stage. Stephanie J. Block, who plays the Fonda role, had something more novel she wanted everyone to sign: her very own vintage copy of Jane Fonda’s Workout Book.

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A 9 to 5 musical, starring Allison Janney
Dolly Parton: 17 Quips We ‘Idol’-ize
The (mostly positive) initial reviews for 9 to 5 at Reuters, Variety, and Bloomberg

Parton, Fonda, and Tomlin had reunited a few years back for a DVD commentary about the movie and subsequent party, but Coleman, their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical boss,” hadn’t taken part. So, when Coleman first entered the stars’ row at the Ahmanson Theatre, Fonda literally jumped up and down with glee as she greeted him. “Why weren’t you out there (on the red carpet), talkin’?” Coleman asked Fonda, who’d already been seated. “I didn’t know I was supposed to — I just walked in,” Fonda told him. But there were plenty of photo opportunities backstage afterward with both the movie and stage casts. Allison Janney, the tallest and leggiest member of the new ensemble (she plays the Tomlin role), crouched to get in frame with some of her costars and forebears. “You got the timbre — the timbre of her voice!” Fonda maveled to Broadway star-in-the-making Megan Hilty, on her vocal resemblance to Parton. “This is surreal,” Hilton kept repeating. Mark Kudisch, who plays the boss in the show, had the movie’s stars autograph the football he tosses around on stage. Stephanie J. Block, who plays the Fonda role, had something more novel she wanted everyone to sign: her very own vintage copy of Jane Fonda’s Workout Book.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
A 9 to 5 musical, starring Allison Janney
Dolly Parton: 17 Quips We ‘Idol’-ize
The (mostly positive) initial reviews for 9 to 5 at Reuters, Variety, and Bloomberg