Diana DeGarmo convincingly channeled Dolly Parton’s delightful Doralee Rhodes during the musical version of “9 to 5″ during opening night Tuesday of a six-day run at Fox Theatre.
DeGarmo, a former Snellville gal, got plenty of applause lines, especially when she threatens lecherous boss Franklin Hart (Joseph Mahowald) with a classic line from the film: “I’m gonna get that gun of mine, and I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!”
That frothy 1980 film starring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda transfers well to a musical. The songs add depth to the characters, three beleaguered secretaries at a major corporation led by sexist Hart. Like the movie, the trio fall into a pot haze and imagine ways to wreak revenge on the boss. Then they actually do get revenge. Dabney Coleman was sublimely hilarious in the film and Mahowald in the play does a credible job imitating Coleman’s late ’70s-era buffoonery.
Parton herself shows up – in video form, hovering on a screen in a clock hanging from the stage – at the beginning and end of the musical. She even sings a verse of her No. 1 hit “9 to 5.”
DeGarmo doesn’t look exactly like Parton. Heck, who does? But she gives the role oodles of sweet-hearted panache. And you could close your eyes and listen to DeGarmo’s talk like Doralee and think it’s Dolly herself.
The first half crackles with humor, as the three women build grievances against the boss. The marijuana-inspired revenge plots are just as hilarious on stage as they were on film. Dee Hoty, who has Tomlin’s Violet role, isn’t quite as wicked but Mamie Paris’s mousey Judy gets plenty of laughs.
There are some draggy moments in the second half as the musical careens to its farcical conclusion. But we know all ends well for Doralee & Co. while Hart gets a one-way ticket to Bolivia.
Here’s a clip of Diana doing the scene in which Doralee fantasizes tying up the boss, cattle style:
If you go
“9 to 5″
8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29
8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30
8 p.m. Friday Oct. 1
2 p.m. Saturday Oct. 2
8 p.m. Saturday Oct. 2
1:30 p.m. Sunday Oct. 3
7 p.m. Sunday Oct. 3
660 Peachtree Street NE