Though she’s still actively promoting her latest album, “Backwoods Barbie,” Dolly Parton is gearing up for the September debut of the musical based on her hit 1980 film “9 to 5.”
The show, which is comprised entirely of Parton’s music, runs Sept. 3-Oct. 19 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles before moving to Broadway’s Marriott Marquis Theatre on March 24. Megan Hilty will play Doralee Rhodes, the role Parton created in the film, while Alison Janney recreates Lily Tomlin’s Violet Newstead, Stephanie J. Block takes on Jane Fonda’s Judy Bernly and Marc Kudisch steps into Dabney Coleman’s shoes as reprehensible boss Franklin Hart, Jr.
“It’s a big thrill and it was a challenge, but I loved it,” Parton tells Billboard.com. For the show, she expanded the song “9 to 5,” which was a No. 1 pop and country hit, to include “lots of new verses and choruses.”
“They’re not your typical Broadway songs,” Parton says of the arrangements of her music for the production. “You can tell they’re kind of Dolly-ized, but they’re not hard country, either. The only country song that we purposely tailored to really sound country was ‘Backwoods Barbie;’ the rest are more mainstream Broadway, but they’ve got a little Dolly flavor.”
Parton says she expects her movie co-stars to turn out for the opening nights in both Los Angeles and New York. “They’re gonna be at the L.A. opening, and I’m sure the New York one as well,” Parton confirms. “The fact that Jane, Lily and Dabney and me are all gonna be there is gonna be a great thrill. I’m looking as forward to that as I am to the opening of the show.”
Parton — who’s currently working a third single, “Shinola,” from “Backwoods Barbie” — plans to release the title track as a single to coincide with the Broadway opening in 2009. And while she’s been pleased with the reception to the album, her first set of country music in nearly a decade and her highest Billboard 200 debut ever (No. 17), Parton’s not sure what direction her next album will take her.
“I purposely did this particular album trying to cater to the country market to see if I could still get some play,” she explains. “But you know me; I’m never gonna be just any one thing, I’m just Dolly. I may do a gospel album next. I know I’m gonna do some children’s CDs and some DVDs for children. I wake up with new dreams every day, and I just kind of follow my gut and follow my heart. It may be a country album next, or it may be something completely different. I may wind up doing a dance record!”