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Take A Memo: 9 to 5 The Musical Comes to the Wharton Center

If you were around in 1980, you probably remember the movie 9 to 5 starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. And even if you wer…

If you were around in 1980, you probably remember the movie 9 to 5 starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. And even if you weren’t around in 1980, chances are you’ve heard the iconic tune 9 to 5 that was written by Dolly Parton for the movie.
9 to 5 told the tale of women with a work environment that left much to be desired. With a not-so-great boss, Mr. Hart (Dabney Coleman) and measly pay, the girls devised a plan. The result was a mix of hilarity and trouble.
Dolly Parton has turned the popular movie into a Broadway production that is now touring nationally. Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine (CAWLM) had the opportunity to talk with former American Idol star Diana DeGarmo, who takes on Dolly’s role of Doralee Rhodes, in the national tour coming to the Wharton Center in December.
CAWLM: How is taking on Dolly Parton’s role in 9 to 5 The Musical?

I’m a huge fan of hers! I even worked at Dollywood when I was in high school.

What is it about the role of Doralee that you enjoy playing?
DeGarmo: It’s a famous role that Miss Dolly did of a southern woman; I can be as country as I need to be. Plus this is such an iconic show. To be a part of something like this makes it that much more fun to play the role.
CAWLM: Most people know you from American Idol Season 3, but you’ve been singing for a while. When did you begin singing, even just around the house?
DeGarmo: (with a laugh) My mom jokes that I came out singing! When I was 5 I wanted to do my own talent show; then there was school, church, choir.
CAWLM: Has your mom helped you with your singing career?
DeGarmo: She has really supported me. She said “If we’re going to do it, we’re gonna go all out.” I’ve been really fortunate, chugging away and to say in my 23 years all that I’ve done.
CAWLM: Have you taken voice lessons?
DeGarmo: Yes and no. We didn’t have a lot of extra income so I’ve had a few sparse voice lessons here and there. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of different people that I’ve learned different qualities from.
CAWLM: You had the chance to perform for our troops, what was that like?
DeGarmo: It was the most humbling experience as a performer ever. There were lots of families in or retired from the military. I felt like I was doing my civic duty by performing for them. We were in 13 countries in seven days. There is a great song I wrote from that time with them called Thank You. It’s being used
in commercials.
CAWLM: As a musician who are some of the influences in your life?
DeGarmo: Dolly Parton, Patsy Kline, Wynona, Celine Dion. I just really respect these women, not only for their music, but their business minds.
CAWLM: You’ve done several other Broadway shows, including Hairspray. What was your favorite?
DeGarmo: Oh man, they’re all so different! I played Penny in Hairspray and I got to be a goofball. I’m a ham at heart so it was a perfect role and I had so much fun. I learned a lot and realized that I was good at what I did.
Brooklyn was my first tour with a musical and it was another training experience. We played an outdoor theatre in Texas with 9,000-degree weather!
I took a break and then did a show in Los Angeles called Back to Bacharach and David, which was a four-person cast and all music. Then New York called again and wanted me for The Toxic Avenger Musical, which was the prequel to Hair. I was the blind, blonde librarian. It was a liberating, fun and amazing experience.
I would say, though, that Doralee (from 9 to 5 The Musical) is the closest to me and my personality.
CAWLM: What do you hope the audience takes away from 9 to 5?
DeGarmo: I hope they have a good time. I hope they are entertained. They need to come prepared for just a great time!
CAWLM: Have you been to East Lansing before?

The last time was January 2005 and it was the coldest I’ve ever been! But I’m looking forward to performing there again.


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