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Arts and Entertainment

Dolly Parton Rocks the House for 9 to 5: The Musical LA Launch Party

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Dolly Parton rocked the House of Blues Friday at a “sneak peek” press and group sales event in Los Angeles for 9 to 5: The Musical , a new musical comedy based on the 1980 hit movie that starred Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin opening September 20 at the Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre.

Clad in a white sequined dress and backed by her full band and singers, the petite legend sang a rousing rendition of her Academy Award-nominated hit "9 to 5" that had the audience clapping, singing along and screaming, followed later by a heartfelt performance of the title cut from her new album Backwoods Barbie, one of 18 new songs written by Parton for the world premiere show.

In between sets, producer Robert Greenblatt (The Drowsy Chaperone) introduced the new cast led by multiple Emmy winner (West Wing) and Tony Award nominee (A View from the Bridge) Allison Janney as Violet Newstead, the super efficient office manager, who joins her fellow co-workers -- recent divorcee Judy Bernly, played by Stephanie J. Block, (currently starring on Broadway as Elphaba in Wicked), and sexy executive secretary Doralee Rhodes, played by Megan Hilty, (currently starring as Glinda in the LA production of Wicked) -- to turn the tables on their boss, the “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot” Franklin Hart Jr., played by two-time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch (recently of Lincoln Center’s The Glorious Ones).

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Two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Assassins) who directed what is on track to become the most successful musical in history, Wicked, will helm 9 to 5's world premiere.

Writer Patricia Resnick who penned the original movie, wrote the book for the musical as well, keeping favorite scenes and its late 70's setting intact while expanding the story to include such things a romance for the Jane Fonda character. Resnick pointed out that while a woman may be currently running for president, only eight Fortune 500 companies have woman CEO's. Many of the changes championed by the iconic workplace film have yet to be achieved to the degree she'd hoped. "Besides, in our 24/7 world, who works only 9-5?"

As for Backroads Barbie, Parton said that although she wrote the song for her Doralee character, it was just as much about her: I'm just a backwoods Barbie, too much make-up, too much hair. Don't be fooled by thinkin' that the goods are not all there. Don't let these false eyelashes lead you to believe that I'm as shallow as I look 'cause I run true and deep.

According to Parton:
o A backwoods Barbie doesn't come with a dream house. She comes with an outhouse.
o Her pink convertible sits on blocks in front of a house that has wheels.

She said she hoped everyone there came to the show because "it costs a lot of money to look this cheap."

Photo by andy54321 via Flickr