By Eddie Shaprio
At the 2006 DVD release party for 9 to 5, Dolly Parton performed the film�s Oscar-nominated theme song. She started by clicking her nails against each other in an approximation of the movie�s opening typewriter sound. �You have to have falsies to do this. The nails too,� she quipped. And then, noting her audience, Parton encouraged a full-scale sing-along. �All you girls, all you guys -- all you guys who want to be girls -- let me hear you!� And an entire room erupted in song.
You can hear it now, can�t you? The song has an almost Pavlovian quality, producing instant giddiness with the clattering of its opening chords. Parton knew it that night and is counting on a similar response to 9 to 5: The Musical. With a score by Parton and a book by the film�s screenwriter, Patricia Resnick, the show -- about three oppressed secretaries who seize control from their vile, misogynist boss -- is poised to delight a whole new generation.
�It is a great story that�s still very resonant today,� says producer Robert Greenblatt. �Even though we�re [almost] 30 years away from the movie, there�s a sense that things haven�t changed that much in corporate America. The glass ceiling is still there.�
Allison Janney, who plays Violet Newstead, a role created by her West Wing costar and friend Lily Tomlin, agrees. �The battle�s still on. We�re still fightin�, girls,� she says playfully. Janney may not be known for her musical prowess (yet), but she insists that she can �hit it to the back rows� and is particularly excited by the show�s female-centric plot. �That�s what I loved about Wicked. It was like a love story between these two women. I don�t think there are enough stories about women�s relationships that are so complicated and so rich.�
Lucky that Janney�s a Wicked fan: Not only will that show�s director, Joe Mantello, be at the helm of 9 to 5, but her costars Megan Hilty and Stephanie Block (left, and right, surrounding Janney) also are both Wicked alumnae. Janney is in awe of all three, but she�s most impressed with Parton: �I was terrified to meet her, but I couldn�t have been more pleasantly surprised about how embracing she was of me. And she wears really cool clothes! I think I am going take a tip from Dolly and maybe wear a few sparkles every day.�
9 to 5: The Musical premieres September 3 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. See more picks for queer fall theater here.