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Well, hello DOLLY! ; Dolly Parton has performed in Nottingham several times before. She's not coming this time, but her work is. She wrote the music...

June 8, 2013

YellowBrix

Well, hello DOLLY! ; Dolly Parton has performed in Nottingham several times before. She's not coming this time, but her work is. She wrote the music for 9 to 5: The Musical, which is based on the 1980 film in which she co- starred, and which spawned the hit song of the same name. Weekend caught up with the country legend

How do you feel about 9 to 5 the Musical being on tour? I'm very excited. I've written all of the music and the lyrics for the show and hopefully it's going to be a fun evening for anyone that wants to come and join us. We have a wonderful cast.

The musical has been described as perfect for anyone who has wanted to string up their boss. Do you think that's true? I think that's pretty right on. I think that's most of us, don't you? It's about women addressing the issues in their workplace, especially three women (played by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and I in the movie) trying to show this egotistical, hypocritical, lying bigot of a boss who really is the boss. So it's all of the fun that we have trying to put him in his place, stringing him up and kind of taking control and really running the company the way we think it should be run, which makes it a big success. So, there's a lot of fun music, a lot of jokes, a lot of ways at pointing a finger at some serious issues, but still being able to enjoy it.

When you were making 9 to 5 in 1980, were you aware of what a statement you were making? Well actually, Jane Fonda is the one that had the big idea to do this and it was just the perfect time. Her timing has always been great with a lot of stuff. She felt like it was an issue worth addressing and it was. When the movie came out, it did make a lot of difference. There were a lot of things that were changed because of that movie and a lot of things have changed through the years. Of course there's always a need for more change, and we still have a lot of the same issues and as long as we work in offices, whether we have a male boss or a female boss. People don't like being bossed around, but you have to have a job. You either have a good job and a bad boss, or a good boss and a bad job. If you're lucky enough to have a good job and a good boss, then you're really lucky, but how many of us are? Have you had to deal with any horrible bosses yourself in your time? Oh sure! You can't live this life, certainly not being a woman in business on your own, without having to deal with a whole lot of stuff. I've come up against all kinds of men, but since I have six brothers, my dad, and all my uncles, I kind of know how men think. I've often said that I look like a woman, but I think like a man. I know what they think and I love men, so I kind of know more than some how to manoeuvre. Even when I worked with Porter Wagoner - the man that I spent seven years with, the man so responsible for so much of my career in the early days - we fought all the time. We were both very headstrong, but I was never going to let anybody tell me what to do. I was willing to follow direction and go by some instructions, but you're not going to ever steal my soul, my originality, and tread on principles and values that I have. We kind of went at it quite a bit. I stood my ground and I still do it to this day. I will stand up for myself.

How similar is 9 to 5: The Musical to the film it's based on? Well, it's very much like the film. We've added a little romance for Violet, the part that Lily Tomlin played, there's a little romance in the musical that wasn't in the movie. But, other than that, it's pretty much right on, with the exception that so much of it is done with the music now and I've tried to tell even more in-depth feelings and stories through the music.

The film was made more than 30 years ago. Are you surprised there hasn't been a remake yet? I know they've talked for years after the movie that Jane, Lily, and I might do a sequel, but we never got that far and I think it's a little late now. They'd have to call it 95 instead of 9 to 5! How did you have the idea to turn to 9 to 5 into a stage show? Bob Greenblatt, who got the idea to do it as a musical, he came to me and said Since you wrote the 9 to 5 theme song, I wonder if you'd be interested in writing the musical? I said, Lord, I don't know if I'm even capable of that. I've never done it. I said I would love to try and so I did try and it worked out really well. I had never done a musical before and I didn't know how it would work out, but since I was so familiar with the story and with all of these characters, it turned out to be much easier for me than I thought it might be and I had a fun time doing it.

A lot of your recent work has been bluegrass and country dance. How different has it been writing for a musical? Well, it was a challenge but I thought it was going to be more of a challenge than it turned out to be. I'm very quick on my feet as far as writing. I've been doing this since I was a little bitty kid and I write all of the time. Since I was so familiar with the characters and with the story, I'd lived with it for 30 years, it was easier for me than probably taking something new that I wasn't that familiar with. I really felt I knew all of the characters and knew exactly what to say and so hopefully, that'll come across and people will agree with that. As part of your new Tony and Grammy nominated score, this show features your original hit title song 9 to 5 which won you an Oscar nomination and four Grammy Award nominations. Can you actually remember writing the song? 9 to 5 was written on the set while I was doing the movie. When I made my deal to do the movie, part of it was that I would write the theme song. I wanted to wait to get a feel for it, so I was like, let's just do this on the set. Everyday when we were working, I'd pick up new ideas. Since I didn't have my guitar or my musical instruments with me, I had these acrylic nails, and they just kind of make a sound like a typewriter. And that's just what the show was about, about women in the office, and so I just started kind of kicking this around and I would come up with a different line like (singing) Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living. And so, I just kind of wrote the whole song. I'd go home at night, get my guitar, and put it together and put it down on tape and so it took me over a long period of time to write the song and when we did record, I actually played my nails on the record! How do make your music and lyrics so uplifting, even when some of them are sad? Well they are all personal. I think any writer would tell you that. I usually write from a place in my own heart, in my own gut, and if it's not something I've experienced myself, it's something I've seen someone I love dearly go through. So, that's one good thing about writers. You're able to write other people's feelings, who are not able to express them. In this musical, we've addressed a lot of things. Even if they're sad, they still have a lot of positive messages. Even when you have a sad story to tell, especially in this musical, there's always hope, like a ray of hope, and I try to put that in as many songs as I can. Although, I do write some songs that are absolutely plum pitiful! There's no way out of it.

Which audiences do you think connect most closely with the show? I really think that it's going to be something fun for everybody. I just hope that the fans will come for whatever reason. I think they'll enjoy the show, even if they're just coming to see what I've done. Then there'll be some who just like going to musicals and hopefully they'll enjoy my music, even if they're not that familiar with me personally. Would you like to be on stage in a musical yourself? Well, I am writing my own life story as a musical, but I probably won't be in it. I may narrate it. I would like to do something on stage, but not necessarily a musical, because I don't think I would hold up day in/day out. I don't know how those singers do it, to sing all those matinees and shows six nights a week. I think I'd get bored to death of having to sit down to a job for that long! What about something like a guest spot on Glee? I get asked to a lot, but I have so many things I'm working on all of the time, that it's sort of time consuming, you have to set aside a couple of weeks. But, I would love to do one of those things. If they came to Dollywood, I'd make an exception. I'd set aside two weeks for that.

Are you planning to come to the UK to watch the tour? At this moment it doesn't look like I'm going to make it, but I am in the musical. I do a lot of stuff on video, I introduce a lot of different people and different things and make lots of comments. So, I'm actually in the show, sort of. I'll definitely be there in spirit.

? 9 to 5: The Musical is on at the Theatre Royal from Monday to Saturday. Tickets are Pounds 15 to Pounds 38.50. Book on trch.co.uk, 0115 989 5555 or in person at the Theatre Royal box office.

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