Theatre in Bristol: Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical from Monday, March 18 to Saturday, March 23, at the Bristol Hippodrome
Back in 1980, the comedy film 9 to 5 – starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and a then relatively little-known country singer named Dolly Parton – made great waves on both sides of the Atlantic.
The trio played three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss. Its playful denunciation of sexism chimed with the spirit of the age – and, the following year, the title song from the film became a huge hit. The film's co-scriptwriter was one Patricia Resnick, a fledgling writer at the time. Now, over 30 years later, Resnick's musical version, with music and lyrics by Parton, arrives for its first UK tour after successful runs on Broadway and around the US.
Natalie Casey (Donna in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) and Bonnie Langford (famous first as Mel Bush, Doctor Who's companion during the mid-Eighties, and more recently as star of Dancing On Ice and musicals including Cats and Chicago) star in the UK version of Resnick's musical comedy.
"Back in 1978, I was a young writer with just one movie credit to my name," Resnick recalls. "I read in the papers that Jane Fonda wanted to make a movie about secretaries, and that she wanted to do it with Lily and Dolly. I decided with the confidence of youth that I was the right person for the job. Ms Fonda read one of my screenplays, liked it and met with me.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
"She explained that she wanted to make a political statement about clerical workers – in particular secretaries – but that she wanted the story presented as a comedy in order to make it more palatable to audiences. I went home with a huge stack of statistics about office workers and began thinking about a story. There was nothing funny about these statistics – so I realised the comedy was going to have to come from my imagination."
Soon enough an idea came to her. "What if the movie was about three secretaries who hated their boss so much they wanted to kill him?"
Less than a year later, the movie was being filmed: and in December 1980 it was released to big box office success. In the decades since, it has held up as a much-loved comedy, with feisty performances, a fine, witty script and a heart-warming victory of good over evil. No surprise, then, that Resnick started thinking about a musical version. But were the problems encountered by its lead trio still relevant?
"In America they certainly were," Resnick stresses. "A mere 39 women have served in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789. Women in the US still make 72 cents to the man's dollar – and ideas that were considered revolutionary in the film, like day care, flexible hours and job sharing, have still not been adopted by most major corporations 32 years later. The biggest difference we observed was that the boss' blatant sexism would now be done in a more secretive manner – but it is certainly still with us."
When it came to turning her script into a musical, Resnick was going to need a composer and lyricist – and there was one obvious choice.
"Off we went to Nashville to ask Dolly Parton, our one and only choice for lyricist-composer, to join us. She said 'yes' – and our dream became a reality."
Not that it was all plain sailing, even then. Musicals are, Resnick acknowledges, a tough genre to get right. "Which character gets to sing what? Are we alternating types of songs enough to keep the pace going? Ballad followed by livelier number, and vice versa? And what is best handled in word and what in song?
"There's a saying in the entertainment industry that goes 'death is easy, comedy is hard' – to which I would add, 'musicals are almost impossible'. But when they work, there is nothing more thrilling. It's taken us over 30 years to get the musical up on stage. I hope it's been worth the wait."