Will a "Glinda" Step Into Dolly Parton's Shoes in Musical Nine to Five?

News   Will a "Glinda" Step Into Dolly Parton's Shoes in Musical Nine to Five?
Megan Hilty, a Glinda in the Broadway and upcoming Los Angeles companies of Wicked, is expected to play the Dolly Parton role in the Broadway-aimed musical Nine to Five.
Megan Hilty
Megan Hilty Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Daily Independent of Ashland, KY, reported the news. Hilty and her boyfriend Steve Kazee (of Spamalot and the upcoming 110 in the Shade) spoke to an eastern Kentucky elementary school class recently, and Hilty spilled the beans about her casting in the choice Nine to Five part.

A 2007-08 launch is expected for the Joe Mantello-directed stage musical, which will have a score by Dolly Parton and libretto by Patricia Resnick (the 1980 property's co-screenwriter). Robert Greenblatt, president of entertainment at Showtime Networks, Inc., will produce.

Parton reportedly saw Hilty play Glinda and thought she had the right stuff to play Doralee, the secretary role Parton created in the picture (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were her office co-workers who seek revenge on their boss).

"In a couple of weeks I'm going to meet (Dolly Parton)," Hilty told the paper. "I'm going to sing with her and I’m so nervous."

Hilty made her Broadway debut in Wicked, playing Glinda the good witch. She is a recent graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. Her credits include Café Puttanesca (City Theatre in Pittsburgh) and The Wild Party (CMU). Nine to Five, the Musical has been tested in private readings. No official announcement of the creative team, cast or Broadway dates have been made public.


The film's title song, written by Parton and suggesting women are "just a step on the boss man's ladder," was Academy Award-nominated for Best Song.

Librettist Patricia Resnick had story and co-screenwriter credit on the hit picture. Resnick previously told Playbill.com Nine to Five would be a large-cast show of perhaps 25 actors.

Given the film's broad commercial strokes and the clear "wants" of its three main characters (three secretaries), it's almost a surprise a plan for Nine to Five, the Musical didn't emerge sooner.

"It's something that's been kicking around for years and years," Resnick told Playbill.com in 2005. "Over the years various people have approached me about trying to do a musical version. Almost two years ago Bob Greenblatt approached me about it. It finally seemed to be 'right person, right time' — we were able to get Dolly involved and Bob and I started moving forward with it."

In the movie, the trio of office secretaries want to get ahead, punish a bullying, sexist boss (played by Dabney Coleman) and overcome the treachery of the boss' office mole, Roz. Fantasy sequences punctuate the comedy, which earned Resnick and co-screenwriter Colin Higgins (who directed) a 1981 nomination for a Writers Guild of America Award in the category of Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen.

Resnick said the transition to the stage has been smooth; she hasn't had to dismantle what worked about the story.

"We've tried to keep the things that are near and dear to people," Resnick said, "but we've tried to definitely see it as its own creature. We're setting it in 1980. We do derive some humor from the things that, in 1980, people are looking forward to, which are sort of mixed blessings — like all of the technology that we have now. This is before cell phones, no faxes, computers were not used the way they are now."

The characters will include three secretaries, Judy, Violet and Doralee, Mr. Hart (the boss), Roz (the office spy) and "a couple of other male parts that were in the movie," which have been beefed up for the stage. An ensemble will be part of the musical. In addition, "we did add some romance" to the plot, Resnick said.

Resnick's screen credits include the Mandy Patinkin-Glenn Close picture, "Maxie"; the TV movies "Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay," "Jenifer," "Grandpa's Funeral," "The Price of a Broken Heart," "Sex, Lies & Obsession," "The Expendables"; the features "Straight Talk" (co-written with Craig Bolotin) starring Dolly Parton, "Second Sight" (co-written with Tom Schulman) and Robert Altman's "A Wedding" (for which Resnick shared screenplay credit).

Resnick also wrote a teleplay for PBS in 1979 called "Ladies in Waiting," which she later adapted for the musical stage (with Alan Poul and Jonathan Sheffer). It was presented in Woodstock, IL, in summer stock, she said, and then moved to the Lyric Opera House in Chicago. The show remains a licensable property that "never quite made it to Broadway, but it's around."

How did the original "Nine to Five" (sometimes written as "9 to 5") film come about?

"Jane Fonda wanted to make a political statement about clerical workers and secretaries, and she wanted to work with Lily and Dolly — I actually read about it in the trades," Resnick explained. "At the time, we were both with William Morris, and there was no writer attached. Lily gave me my first job. I wrote for her first Broadway show, Appearing Nitely. I had done a couple of sketches for Dolly for a Cher special, so I had somewhat of a relationship with both of them. I asked that Jane read some of my work and consider me, which she did. She explained to me what she wanted to say — she wanted to work with Lily and Dolly, and she did want it couched in terms of a comedy. She thought political statements are more palatable using comedy. I came up with the story. We then took it to 20th Century Fox."

Underneath the comedy, the movie was about the smart, industrious but invisible women behind the power structure of corporate America. "That's changed a little, but not as much as you would have thought in the 25 years since the movie came out," Resnick said.

The film inspired a TV series of the same name.

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