Remember the movie? It's a classic. Three women (played by Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton), sick of their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" of a boss, accidentally on-purpose hog-tie him, kidnap him and keep him as a prisoner in his home while they run the office, and improve the livelihood of, well...everything.
Last night, DanCap Productions opened 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, a play that's similar to the film, but with a few additions. Violet (the LIly Tomlin character, played by Dee Hoty in the stage version) has a love interest with a junior accountant (an addition that didn't help the plot or character arc of Violet so I wish it was left out), recent divorcee Judy (Jane Fonda in the movie and now played with absolute joy by Mamie Parris) has a few more run-ins with her ex-husband, and Dorleen (Dolly Parton's infamous character, played this time by a dead-ringer for Dolly, in both looks and voice, Diana DeGarmo) has a few more singing solos that aren't included in the movie. (But when you hear DeGarmo's rendition of "Backwoods Barbie", you really wish they had been!) Overall the production was fun and fabulous and totally Dolly-riffic.
But what interested me most about the show was the extra feminist twist that the additional songs gave it. Parris' Judy has a give-you-chills number, "Get Out and Stay Out", about how she doesn't need a man anymore because she's just fine on her own, and during the epilogue at the end of the show, we learn that she never actually gets married again. DeGarmo's Dorleen has a couple of solos, including the pitch-perfect "Backwoods Barbie", about how she's harshly judged by men and women for the way she looks, but that she's still determined to stay true to herself. Both of her songs shed light on men and women's prejudices against those who don't adhere to our uptight principles and make us feel insecure. Hoty's Violet is a career woman who has been consistently passed over for promotions from her sexist boss and has her own solo, "One of the Boys", about how fantastic it would be to fill the role of a female CEO. All of these numbers and additional story lines aren't groundbreaking nor will they go on to make waves tin feminist circles, but they do add the important essence of girl power that is present in the film, but, unfortunately, would be otherwise missing from the musical.
I have the utmost respect for Dolly Parton. She's a pioneer who had the strength to play her game by her own rules, despite what all the cowboys in Tennessee had to say. She's also the kind of feminist, feminists like to look down on; she flaunts her womanly "attributes" and makes them work for her as opposed to pretending they don't exist. Dolly could easily have let Violet, Judy and Dorleen be the watered down, desperate-for-love, characters like so many other leading female roles on the stage, but she didn't. She hitched on her wig, pulled in her corset and dug in her 6" heels to breathe additional life into them the best way Dolly can; through song. These 3 women who won't break the feminist mold but do have a place in it, so cynics, please don't hate them, and Dolly, just because you can.