Workin’! `9 to 5′ hits the stage

Megan Hilty (left), Allison Janney (center) and Stephanie J. Block in the world premiere of 9 to 5: The Musical at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles Music Center. The show opened amid a set snafu and abundant celebrity sightings. Photo by Craig Schwartz

What a way to make a livin’!

Yes, Dolly Parton, one of the world’s supreme people, can now add Broadway composer to her resume…almost. Her stage musical version of 9 to 5, the movie in which she starred with Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman, opened Saturday at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles Music Center and will head to Broadway next spring.

Luckily for all of us, Theater Dogs had an on-the-spot dog. We’ll call him/her Sport, and we trust his/her reporting acumen 100 percent.

The big news of the evening was that the set broke. Take it away, Sport:

Yes, the set broke. Apparently, this is a recurring issue. It’s a big, complicated thing, embroidered with trapdoors and moving scenery and a pretty cool dinosaur-esque copy machine. It malfunctioned the first night of previews and Dolly did a bit of impromptu entertainment for the crowd. It also broke Saturday (in a different spot). Big-time cynics speculate it was a publicity stunt (wink wink), but I honestly don’t think so. Dolly didn’t pop up right away; she sat for a bit, chatting with Jane, Lily and Dabney Coleman. Finally, someone brought her a mic and she led a completely awesome “9 to 5” sing-along. Cheers, cheers! Then she vamped for a few minutes more, saying that it’s a good thing she’s “a big show-off” and able to fill the time. She was about to launch into another number when an usher informed her the set was fixed. Everyone protested, but she told them she’d get to another song when the set broke again. (It didn’t.) Oh, also, she mentioned that someone asked her why she, Jane and Lily weren’t starring in this…she said, “I told them it’s still called 9 to 5…not 95!”

9 to 5: The Musical cast members include (from left) Marc Kudisch (as Franklin Hart), Megan Hilty (as Doralee Rhodes), Stephanie J. Block (as Judy Bernley), the one-and-only Dolly Parton (music and lyrics) and Allison Janney (as Violet Newstead). Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

Here’s what our gal/guy-on-the scene though about the show itself:

It’s a lot of fun. The songs are snappy and delicious. Allison Janney is leggy and lovely and obviously having a blast, but in the end, it’s really Megan Hilty and Stephanie J. Block who get the show-stoppers. Both are excellent. The crowd LOVED it and it seems like it could have a pretty successful Broadway run, as long as they get that set fixed. Either that, or they’re going to have to incorporate Dolly into every performance!

Exciting. Too bad the out-of-town tryout wasn’t in San Francisco.

If you’re so inspired, there’s still time to catch 9 to 5: The Musical. It runs through through Oct. 19. For tickets, call (213) 628-2772 or visit

From the vaults of YouTube — an intrepid opening-night audience member named Ryan O’Connor caught Miss Dolly’s impromptu performance during the set difficulties on camera (sort of — the usher kept interfering). But it’s still pretty cool:

Here’s more (10 minutes more) from a very enthusiastic Ryan O’Connor with his BFF, Tony-winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, who apparently attended opening night together (total dirt about John Lloyd Young and Lea Michele, he of Jersey Boys and she of Spring Awakening, are dating!):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *