The red carpet was rolled out at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Tuesday night, September 21. Photographers donned professional cameras around their necks. The Channel 2 and 4 correspondents were ready with their 100-watt smiles and black no-nonsense clothing, gripping the microphones and rattling about the upcoming excitement the night would bring. Fans lined the opposite street. Their expectant faces and digital point-and-shoot cameras were at the ready. They heard some country stars would be under the Nashville stars tonight. Dolly Parton. Naomi Judd. Bo Bice. Everyone turned to see the first jet-black stretch limo pull up. Then another and another.
The national tour of “9 to 5: The Musical” premiered at TPAC in Nashville, Tenn. Tuesday night, September 21. The musical was adapted by the 1980’s film “Nine to Five”. Dolly Parton starred in the movie and wrote the music and lyrics for the musical. Patricia Resnick formed the concept of the story and wrote the musical.
“9 to 5: The Musical” is about three women trying to make it in a man’s world. There’s Judy Bernly, a recent divorcee who just can’t seem to get over her divorce; Violet Newstead, a widow raising her 17-year-old son alone; and Doralee Rhodes, a blonde bombshell who has been unfairly classified as the office hussy. Mr. Hart, their heartless boss, runs his office like a sweatshop. He demands perfection and isn’t scared to fire someone for the smallest infraction. The women want revenge against Mr. Hart and eventually get him sent far away from the office. The musical deals with sexism and feminism in the late 70’s amongst the dings of the typewriters and early photocopiers.
Dee Hoty, Violet, was exceptional. She portrayed the widow to be a strong, independent woman. When office sweetheart, Joe, was sweet on her, she held her ground. Under her hard surface, it was evident she desperately wanted to be loved. Hoty was sarcastic and a firecracker as she stomped around stage, commanding attention and respect even though her title still read “secretary”.
Mamie Parris, Judy, was sweet, quirky and funny. She comes off as skittish and uncertain of herself. As the days progress, she comes to find her value is priceless. When her ex-husband tries to win her back, she fights the urges with her freedom song “Get Out and Stay Out”.
Dianna DeGarmo, runner-up of American Idol Season 6, played Parton’s role as Doralee. She acted just like Parton: from the big hair, the strut and the booming voice. Her performance of “Backwoods Barbie” was heart-warming. She comes off as a blonde bimbo but deep down she has a heart of gold and a good head on her shoulders.
Dolly Parton could definitely be seen in all her songs. There are songs about the hard-working man and the even-harder-working woman; songs about appreciating a woman’s brains than objectifying her body; songs of independence and freedom. The songs are foot-tapping and fun, catchy and strong. They are definitely memorable.
The final curtain closed as the audience whooped and hollered, giving a standing ovation. The night wouldn’t be complete, though, without Dolly Parton coming on stage and graciously thanking the audience for a wonderful evening.
If you’re a theater-geek-college student and want to attend TPAC’s shows, you’re in luck. Students can get $15 to $25 tickets for any show at TPAC. “9 to 5: The Musical” runs until September 26. Don’t miss your chance to clock-in and see this hilarious show.