It has to be difficult to play an iconic role that one actor is widely known for playing. It has to reach a whole new level of difficulty when that actor is sitting right in front of you during auditions through opening night. Megan Hilty was in this very position as she took over the role of Doralee Rhodes that Dolly Parton -- who wrote the score for the new musical -- made famous. Megan discusses auditioning in front of Dolly Parton for the new Broadway adaptation of 9 to 5 and her love for the original 1980 movie.
Thank you. So, what was the process in getting the role in 9 to 5?
I've been attached to the project for, gosh, I think almost two and a half years now -- because I was doing the readings and the workshops. It was extremely daunting in the beginning when I just got a phone call to be at one of the first readings. And it was so exciting and then I realized that Dolly (Parton) was going to be in the room and I would have to do her role in front of her -- and she is by far one of the most genuinely kind people in this process -- but there is no other way to describe it as all of those anxious feelings just kind of went away. She was so supportive of just letting me do my thing and never telling me I was doing anything wrong. She was just like, (in a very good Dolly Parton voice) "Oh Honey, you're doin' fiiiiine."
Thanks! And I've just been so spoiled by having such amazing people around throughout the whole process.
They came out for opening out in L.A. And I just saw Lily the other day, she was here for an interview with Allison (Janney). And Jane is a couple of blocks away doing her big Broadway play [33 Variations]. So everybody is around and I think they are going to be here for the opening. They haven't been around as much as Dolly since Dolly wrote the music for our show but their presence is well known.
Everyone knows the movie 9 to 5. You can't go through the movie channels without seeing it.
Isn't that crazy, it's always on!
It's just one of those very re-watchable movies, so everyone knows this character. Is it weird stepping into such a well known character that's only been played by one person? Well, technically, two, if you count Rachel Dennison who played Doralee on the television show -- who is actually Dolly Parton's sister, right?
Yes she is; I just met her the other day. She came by and we all took pictures together as the three Doralees (laughs). She's gorgeous, everyone in that family is just beautiful. And I could drive myself crazy trying to be exactly like Dolly [in the role] and live up to the standard. I decided really early on in this process that it would be a disservice to the play, to the movie and to Dolly ... and to me, really, if i just went out and did an imitation of Dolly Parton.
The role was written for her; it's based on Dolly Parton. It's been fun trying to find that balance in playing Doralee and paying homage to the performance Dolly made so iconic.
I'm going to go out on a limb: I'm going to guess in the Broadway show, compared to the movie, there's more singing.
Other than that, are their any other major plot twists or changes to the plot that were not in the movie?
Without giving too much away: there is a blossoming romance that is thrown into the mix. Which is really great because he kind of represents the good guys that are out there because all of the other guys in the movie are deadbeats and people who are keeping women down. And it's great because Andy Karl's character shows that we appreciate the men who are out there who can appreciate a woman.
(Laughs) Yeah. The character's name is Joe and he is played brilliantly by Andy Karl and it's a beautiful little touch to the story.
When you think about it, the movie really is a dark comedy.
Oh, absolutely, if you really think about it. I mean, they're kidnapping [their boss Mr. Hart] ... tying him up. You know, we didn't really realize it until we were physically doing it to Marc Kudisch in the role and we were like: this is really messed up. It's a total dark comedy, you just miss the dark part because it's played so brilliantly.
9 to 5 is currently playing at the Marguis Theatre
Interview by Mike from Midwesterner in the City