LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Almost 30 years after starring in the movie “9 to 5” and writing its hit theme song, country star Dolly Parton’s first stage musical gets its world premiere in Los Angeles on Saturday before heading for Broadway.
Parton, 62, wrote 17 new songs for “9 to 5: The Musical” — a comedy set in 1979 about three female office workers who turn the tables on their sexist, male boss.
Despite having 26 hit singles and writing the classic “I Will Always Love You,” “9 to 5: The Musical” is Parton’s first stab at writing lyrics and music for a full stage musical.
“I found it more enjoyable than I thought. You have more freedom than when you write a song ... usually it’s a couple of verses and chorus and a bridge and you have to keep it down to about three minutes in order to get radio play,” Parton told Reuters on Thursday.
“I just wrote until I said what I felt the character should say. I was very pleased it came out as good as it did because I wasn’t sure if I could even do it,” she said.
The musical is closely based on the hit movie that grossed $103 million at box offices and starred Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as scheming office workers.
The movie was written several years before the phrase “the glass ceiling” became widely used to reference career barriers facing women in the workplace, but Parton said she believed the story of revenge and female friendship remains appealing.
“I think people will always hate their boss and think of ways to get back at them. And still in the workplace, there are people trying to keep you down,” she said.
Parton’s role as a sexy but harassed secretary is played in the musical by Megan Hilty. Allison Janney, best known for the political TV drama “The West Wing,” makes her musical theater debut taking the role played in the movie by Tomlin, and Stephanie J. Block assumes the Fonda role.
The show will head to Broadway in March 2009, which is considered a mark of success for any musical. Still, Parton confessed to a case of nerves before the Los Angeles debut.
“You never know what’s going to make it. It’s up to your audience. They are the ones who are going to say if they like it or not,” she said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte