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Diana DeGarmo playing Dolly Parton’s part on ‘9 to 5′ at Fox Theatre Sept. 28-Oct. 3

Diana DeGarmo on red carpet at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Sept. 11

Last summer, “American Idol” runner-up Diana DeGarmo was in New York City doing a play called “Toxic Avenger” and decided to check out the new Broadway musical “9 to 5.” She immediately wanted to be in it.

She imagined donning a big blond wig and becoming the sassy Doralee Rhodes, the role made famous by Dolly Parton in the popular 1980 film “Nine to Five” also starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman.

“I’m a huge Dolly Parton fan,” she said in a phone interview earlier this month while prepping for the show. “I’ve met her a handful of times but I could never say anything. I clam up!”

DeGarmo, since almost winning “Idol” six years ago, has had plenty of success in musical theater, doing more than a half-dozen shows, from “Hairspray” to “Hair.” Her soaring vocal ability and cheerful persona has worked well on stage.

Earlier this year, when she heard “9 to 5″ was casting for the national tour, she figured she had no shot at it because she was under contract with the Broadway revival of “Hair.” But “Hair” unexpectedly got a closing notice over the summer and DeGarmo heard the gal set to play Doralee on ”9 to 5″ had to bow out. DeGarmo was there to fill her shoes.

“The stars,” DeGarmo said, “were aligned.”

The Snellville native said she already knew the music going in and understood Doralee’s sensibilities. It didn’t hurt the director was the same one who had worked with her on the national tour of “Brooklyn.”

“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s easy when the role is really well written and it’s a fun character people already love. Half the battle is already done.”

But she understands she’s stepping into “quite an iconic role. Everybody loves Dolly Parton.”

The musical, she said, is set in the late 1970s, just like the film. “You’ll see pictures of Farrah Fawcett and Donna Summer and Tom Selleck,” she said. “It’s disco and pet rocks. It’s cool to go back to such a fun time.”

DeGarmo will sing a solo “Backwoods Barbie,” which is on Parton’s last album. “It’s perfect,” DeGarmo effused. “It’s a very simple country song. It gives insight into her character.”

Here’s Dolly’s version:

And she was anticipating the costume: “Blond wig, corset, high heels, fingernails, make up, big bra,” she listed. “And Spanx. There’ll be plenty of undergarments! I’ll be losing a lot of water weight!”

She said she’s still coming off the high of doing “Hair.” “I’ll never have such an experience again,” she said. “I truly had a blast.” She also got to work with fellow “Idol” alumni Ace Young. “He and I really bonded. We’re buddies forever, having done both ‘Idol’ and ‘Hair.’ ”

Here she is singing “Easy to Be Hard” on the “Early Show.”

DeGarmo has been trying to break into country music since she did the CMT reality show “Gone Country” with the likes of Bobby Brown and Maureen McCormick. Her forays into theater have made it difficult to focus on recording music, but she has an EP of songs she sells on the side with no major label attached to it. “I got burned by the big record labels,” she said.  “It makes me cautious to ever get near them again. I like being my own boss.”

She will be selling her EPs at the “9 to 5″ shows and hopes to do a few acoustic sets on her days off while in various cities. Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to set up any dates while in her hometown.

Her “Idol” experience, she said, seems like another generation. “I feel like such a grandma when I’m around”  the more recent contestants, she said. “The show is so different now. We walked uphill both ways in snow in comparison!”

She thinks with Simon Cowell gone, “Idol’ should just have one more big season and “give it up.” Else, “the longer they go, the crazier the show is going to get. I say blow it out of the water and call it a day.”

Here’s  a clip from the Tony’s in 2009 of the musical with Dolly Parton leading the song “9 to 5″:

And a scene from the original movie of Doralee’s revenge against the boss:

23 comments Add your comment

Deanna

September 20th, 2010
7:25 am

By the way, please you use the picture and videos I posted in your blog if you’d like.

Deirdre

September 20th, 2010
7:54 am

Morning!

Excellent interview with Diana, Rodney. I laughed when she said she feels like a grandma around the more recent Idol contestants but I get what she means. Being from season 3, the show was still as much of a fledgling as she was. Now she has a lot o experience under her belt and probably knows better than a lot of people the ups and downs of the business.

Congrats to Diana!

Mercedes!!!!!!!! Where’d you go??????

Lara

September 20th, 2010
8:11 am

Nice article. I had just read about her performance in the Fox program while I was at a show this weekend. Diana has done really well for herself and has made Georgia proud.

[...] is the original:  Diana DeGarmo playing Dolly Parton’s part on ‘9 to 5′ at Fox Theatre Sept. 28-Oct. 3 [...]

Deirdre

September 20th, 2010
8:37 am

“blow it out of the water and call it a day”. Wise words, Diana. If this season is a good one, they should consider going out while they’re still on top. Don’t think the network will allow that, however. Too much money still being made. Fox is more likely to let Idol fade into oblivion.

Frankentasia

September 20th, 2010
8:50 am

Diana jus needs to gaw on and take a back seat like she did when I beat her! Why dis article be replacing mines?

I-Ninjakicksbackcowell

September 20th, 2010
9:19 am

Idol needs to continue as long as its a big show and show Mr. Ego it can thrive w/o him. Hopefully the new judges will do a superior job of talent finding and then support the best singers instead of the best looking white guys w/ so-so voices like Lee, Tim, and cougar bait.

Woodpappy

September 20th, 2010
9:46 am

Diana makes this former Snellvillian very proud.

Cousin It

September 20th, 2010
10:26 am

When will she be doing a Hustler Spread?

Tyler Perry

September 20th, 2010
10:28 am

WHAT? What the hell is goin on? I auditioned and was promised the part of Dolly Parton. DAYUM, Tyler been screwed again. Well let me tell you somethin little miss DeGarmo. Once my sex change operation is completed I will be the hottest DIVA on the block. Thats right little BEEATCH then Im gonna take all the female acting parts.

wreckedpizza

September 20th, 2010
11:06 am

Thanks, Rodney! What a wonderful gift on a Monday. I am still hoping to make one of the shows. Got some other things going on during that time, but maybe planets will align and I will get to see Diana. That would be too fine! Really…

Julie

September 20th, 2010
11:38 am

Diana seems like a terrific person. When she was a kid on idol she tried too hard to be perfect and always say the right thing. It came across artificial even though she probably was a good kid. She comes across now like a nice, normal 23 year old. She just seems very real and together.

Hank Williams Jr.

September 20th, 2010
11:50 am

Enter your comments here

Hank Williams Jr.

September 20th, 2010
11:50 am

Deidre…how ya’ doin?

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Diana's the best

September 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

Note to Julie; please think before you type, obviously you’ve never met Diana or you would keep your opinion to yourself. She was herself on Idol, a very good and sweet person. She did not ‘try too hard’ on Idol. (I watched every show.) There still are a few people out there who can be themselves and be true….unfortunately there are those like you who don’t know her, that try to bust her chops!

JTesla

September 20th, 2010
12:28 pm

“obviously you’ve never met Diana or you would keep your opinion to yourself”

So we all need to keep our opinion to ourselves unless we have met Diana?

That’s just silly. Diana is great, but I don’t feel that I need to meet her to be able to say that.

3 Thugs in a Black Sedan

September 20th, 2010
12:45 pm

Diana’s the best

September 20th, 2010
12:26 pm

And you have met Diana?

Deirdre

September 20th, 2010
12:47 pm

Fans are weird. Julie gave Diana some wonderful compliments and a Diana fan takes offense? Seriously?

New thread!

Booger Sandwich w/Cheese

September 20th, 2010
12:47 pm

In 5 years Diana will probably have moved up in the Hollywood world where as Adumb Lameboner will be living in squalor with his mom in some broken down trailer, strung out on meth and having only enough money left to afford cat food.

Julie

September 20th, 2010
1:34 pm

My comment about Diana was a compliment. “artificial” clearly wasn’t meant to be taken so literally. It was referencing the knocks on her (pageanty, robotic, etc).

She is and was a good person, I simply prefer her adult personality. Chill out.

Diana-Dolly fan

September 20th, 2010
2:59 pm

I love the idea of Diana playing Dolly’s role. She certainly has the “assets” like Dolly.

JTesla

September 20th, 2010
3:07 pm

“Diana-Dolly fan” please tell me you are a female, because no heterosexual male would say that Diana has Dolly’s “assets”. Don’t get me wrong, I like, and even prefer, the assets that Diana brings to the role, but she is no Dolly.

Deanna

September 20th, 2010
9:51 pm

I also saw these videos of Diana rehearsing Backwoods Barbie and another song on MJ’s. She sounds perfect for this role. Good for her.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mul3_M9B4dM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-uBmwkymvs&feature=channel