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The secret behind Dolly Parton's '9 to 5' mini-concert

September 19, 2008 |  2:17 pm

Dollyandbob Culture Monster reported on Dolly Parton saving the day when a technical glitch caused a delay in a recent preview performance of "9 to 5: The Musical," which opens Saturday at the Ahmanson Theatre. It turns out her impromptu performance wasn't completely, well, impromptu.

"We’d been having some technical problems with our set as we worked through the tech rehearsals," producer Bob Greenblatt said in a recent interview. "We knew there might be some last-minute thing we’d have to stop and correct. On the one hand, a preview audience likes that — it's kind of special. But as the creative team sits there, it’s agonizing for us. We want it to be seamless.

"So I thought, since Dolly was going be in the audience watching the show, it made sense to have her welcome the audience at the top of the show and tell them we might have occasion to stop, and if we do she’ll come up and chat with people during the hold. So she did her little welcome, and people loved it. Then I thought, well, great, we probably won't stop, but then at the end of the first act, we had to bring in the curtain, and she popped right up and stood down by the orchestra pit by the microphone, and she bantered about the show and made some jokes and got the audience singing ‘9 to 5’ with her, and then she sang 'I Will Always Love You.' She was totally game to do it. Which is indicative of her. She’s a total trouper."

Parton is boundlessly enthusiastic about the production, including Megan Hilty's performance as Doralee, the character she herself played in the film. She thinks the "Wicked" star is ideal for the part.

"He took me to see 'Wicked,' they told me they were considering her, and I thought, she’s the perfect one for it," Parton said in a separate interview. "She is from the stage, and she has that voice, and she can do it all. I was really very proud that they picked her. I wasn’t possessive of that little character.... But it’s nothing like the original. You never forget the original; it's like a first love or something. I was the first Doralee. But there might be several Doralees down the road."

For more on Parton and "9 to 5," see this feature in Sunday's Arts & Music section.

— Ann Powers

Dolly Parton and "9 to 5: The Musical" producer Robert Greenblatt at a rehearsal in New York.

Photo by Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images