Most people remember the 1980 movie version of “9 to 5” for its women’s lib vibe and its inspired casting.
Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton played the three put-upon women in the offices of Consolidated Companies, and Dabney Coleman played the tyrannical, egotistical, selfish, sexist pig of a boss.
Memorable quote (an infuriated Parton to Coleman): “If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine, and I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!”
Now comes the Broadway musical version, which arrives on national tour at the INB Performing Arts Center beginning tonight. You can expect it to be a close cousin to the movie, since the book was written by the co-writer of the film, Patricia Resnick.
You won’t see Fonda and Tomlin, of course, nor will you see Parton. But you’ll hear plenty of Parton, because she wrote every song in this musical, which had a brief Broadway run in 2009.
Parton has written hundreds of songs in her career, including the hit title song of the movie. Yet she had never written a musical before.
She told an interviewer for the Dayton Daily News that she didn’t try to overthink it: She simply imagined what the characters were feeling and then expressed it. That’s a perfect description of the essence of a musical composer’s job.
Parton went on to earn a 2009 Tony nomination for best original score.
The touring version has a few names of its own. Diana DeGarmo, well-known for being the runner-up on the third season of “American Idol” at the age of 16, takes on Parton’s role as the secretary Doralee. DeGarmo has been telling interviewers that she knew she “had a big bra to fill.”
Violet, the Tomlin role, will be played by Dee Hoty, who has been nominated for three Tony Awards in a long and impressive Broadway career. She played Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!”
Broadway veterans Mamie Parris (“Ragtime,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”) and Joseph Mahowald (“Jekyll and Hyde,” “Les Miserables”) play the roles of Judy Bernly and Franklin Hart, respectively.
Parton earned some respect for her score, but the musical itself didn’t get much when it opened in 2009. Ben Brantley of the New York Times described it as an “overinflated whoopee cushion.” The New York Post called it “feeble.”
The show failed to get a Tony nomination for best musical. It closed after 148 performances and lost money.
Yet the more stripped-down touring version has been better-received. Parton told the Chicago Sun-Times that the “production is a little less grandiose on the road, which is more fitting for the story.”