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'9 to 5' cast reunites while Dolly saves the day again

September 21, 2008 |  4:28 pm


Opening night for “9 to 5: The Musical” at the Ahmanson Theatre was a return to 1979 or thereabouts — and not just onstage. In attendance were stars from the 1980 film on which the stage production is based: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dabney Coleman and, of course, Dolly Parton. Parton, as you know, wrote the music and lyrics for the new musical, now in its pre-Broadway run through Oct. 19.

Fonda, the first to arrive at her seat, was overheard asking her companion, “Who plays me? I don’t even know.” Coleman arrived next, somewhat perplexed, asking Fonda, “Where do you want me to sit? Where should I sit?” Parton entered the auditorium to a standing ovation, and Tomlin sneaked in last.

After a bit of musical chairs, Parton, Fonda and Tomlin were seated together. The three giggled, gossiped and greeted friends before the curtain rose. “I think you’ll really like the show,” Parton whispered to her pals.   

When technical problems (a broken caster on one of the huge movable set pieces reportedly shattered, with loose shards causing additional problems for other equipment) forced the show to stop early in Act I, Dolly called out to the unseen stagehands, “Don’t make me have to sing.” But as the break wore on, Parton did “have to sing,” as was the case during the show’s first preview, which also was interrupted because of a technical malfunction.

Fortunately, a bodyguard at the end of the row just happened to have a live microphone in hand. How fortuitous. After leading the giddy audience in “9 to 5,” Parton found she still had to fill time, so she jokingly shared what she said was the speech she had planned to make at the end of the show, “but they keep screwing up.”

“People ask why didn’t you and Lily and Jane do the play?” she told the audience, which cheered at the very idea. “I said, ‘It’s still called “9 to 5,” not “Ninety-five.” ’ ” By now the audience was starting to grow antsy, so Parton offered to sing again. But before she could launch into “I Will Always Love You,” an official cut her off, saying the show was good to go. The disappointed audience groaned, to which Parton quipped: “Let’s do that one when you break down again.”

The event's starry crowd included Gabriel Byrne, in town for the Emmys, Blythe Danner, Tracy Ullman, former N’ Sync member Lance Bass, playwrights Jon Robin Baitz and David Marshall Grant, former “Frasier” co-stars Peri Gilpin and David Hyde Pierce, Jai Rodriguez, Doris Roberts, Joel Grey, Swoosie Kurtz and “9 to 5” producer/Showtime honcho Bob Greenblatt. More photos after the jump.

Lisa Fung

Original "9 to 5" cast members Dabney Coleman, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda

Photo by Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging


Gabriel Byrne and Anna George


Blythe Danner


David Hyde Pierce and Jane Fonda


Tracy Ullman


Lance Bass


Playwright Jon Robin Baitz


“9 to 5” producer/Showtime honcho Bob Greenblatt with "9 to 5" book writer Patricia Resnick.


"9 to 5" director Joe Mantello and playwright David Marshall Grant at the after-party.


Dolly Parton and her alter-ego, Megan Hilty.


Allison Janney, who plays Violet, with Lily Tomlin.


Jane Fonda and Stephanie J. Block, who plays Judy.


Marc Kudisch, who plays Franklin Hart, with Dabney Coleman.


Taking bows

Photos by Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging