Dolly Parton talks about her new hit musical ‘9 To 5’

The musical was a Broadway hit for Dolly Parton. Picture: AP
The musical was a Broadway hit for Dolly Parton. Picture: AP
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DOLLY PARTON is laughing, a warm laid back chortle of a laugh. “It’s so funny, my favourite line is that I’ve been working a 9 to 5 job for more than 30 years now.”

The first lady of country music is excited. 9 To 5, her first ever stage musical, opens at the Edinburgh Playhouse next week, some 32 years after Parton herself starred alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the blockbuster movie on which it is based.

The cast of Dolly's new musical '9 to 5'

The cast of Dolly's new musical '9 to 5'

“I’m very excited to be bringing 9 To 5 to Edinburgh,” enthuses the bubbly star. “I first visited Edinburgh about 30 years ago, and have done a few concerts there, but this is a little different.”

The movie version of 9 To 5 was already more than two decades old when Parton was first approached about the possibility of transforming it into a musical theatre production.

She recalls, “The film had been out for more than 25 years when producer Bob Greenblatt decided it would make a great musical for Broadway.

“As I’d written the 9 To 5 theme song, he approached me about writing the whole musical. I said, ‘Why now? After so many years? I’ve never written a musical, I’d love to give it a try.’ And I did.

“It took five years to get it ready to open on Broadway. It ran there for a while then it toured the United States and now it’s in the UK.”

Parton can’t hide her delight at the success of the show, which she puts down to one song.

“I had no idea it would ever become a Broadway musical but 9 To 5 is the song that won’t die. It’s still one of the most popular numbers I do on stage... everyone just knows the words to it.”

A classic 80s comedy, 9 To 5 tells the tale of three female office workers who team up to teach their chauvinistic boss a long-overdue lesson.

“The musical is basically the same as the movie although a few little jokes that might be more appealing to UK audiences have been added,” confirms Parton. “It has however, remained a period piece, set in the late-70s/early-80s, which makes it kind of fun, and it’s still about these women who feel that they are not being treated great.”

Modestly, she adds, “And hopefully, the music is great. I know I worked very hard at it.”

At the Playhouse, Natalie Casey, best known as Donna in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, West End star Jackie Clune and former Doctor Who girl Bonnie Langford bring to life the characters made famous by Parton, Fonda and Tomlin. They’re joined by The Bill’s Ben Richards as the big bad boss.

Parton too makes an appearance. “I actually am in it... on video,” she reveals.

“I intermingle with the crowd, and when there’s a lot of stuff to explain, I come back on and tell the audience what is happening. So I’m in and out of the show two or three times. It makes it feel as if I am actually there.”

The cast and company of the 9 To 5 tour are also helping Parton promote her Imagination Library, a charitable foundation which encourages a love of reading by providing pre-school children in adoptive or foster care with a specially selected book each month.

“I started the Imagination Library 15 years ago in the States and now we’re all over the UK, sending out 20,000 books a month.

“I wanted to do it because I’m from a very large, poor family. My daddy never had the chance to go to school and couldn’t read or write and he was such a smart wonderful person. That inspired me. I wanted to do it for my daddy.”

• 9 To 5, The Playhouse, Greenside Place, Monday-Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees at 2.30pm), £15-£42, 0844-871 3014