In Dolly Parton’s classic musical, 9 to 5, three coworkers form a bond as they strive to get even with a sexist, egotistical boss. The musical, which is entirely written by Parton herself, is a tale of friendship, revenge, and female empowerment. From February 21 to March 1, North Texas Performing Arts Repertory Theatre will be holding performances of 9 to 5.
NTPA’s version of 9 to 5 will be produced by a predominately female crew. Rebecca Lowrey will serve as the play’s director. For as long as she can remember, Lowery has been a lifelong fan of Parton.
“She’s got so many great hits,” Lowrey says of Parton. “We actually talked about that on the first day of rehearsal. I think everyone’s favorite song is ‘Jolene,’ but I think everyone has other ones that they like. People aren’t really [aware] that she’s written so many songs, not just ones that she’s performed herself. When you really start looking at all the songs she’s written, you see that she’s just a very prolific writer.”
While she hasn’t found time to watch Netflix’s Heartstrings series, in which each episode is based off of one of Parton’s songs, Lowrey did listen to Dolly Parton’s podcast to get familiar with her. Lowrey notes that during the rehearsals, the fact that many of the cast didn’t grow up during Dolly’s time has made for an interesting learning experience.
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“We have a very diverse cast,” Lowrey says, “and that’s kind of unintentionally changed some of the storylines. It’s given them some deeper meaning. We have some non-traditional casting in age. It’s a pretty young cast, so we’re having to explain a lot of ’80s references.”
While there may be an age variance among the cast, including the three leads, Lowrey has enjoyed watching the friendships between castmates bloom.
“It’s really heartwarming,” Lowrey says, “to see the three women in my show not only become friends in real life, but then just to watch their friendship on the stage evolve.”
One of 9 to 5’s leads is Sky Williams, who plays Violet Newstead, who Williams describes as “very focused” and “a hard worker.” Williams admits that before landing the role of Violet, she didn’t really know much about Parton.
“I guess you could say I’m slowly becoming a fan,” Williams says. “I’m not from the South, and I didn’t actually hear of Dolly Parton until I moved to Texas years ago. I had heard “9 to 5,” of course, and I knew who she was, but I never really experienced the Dolly mania that a lot of people had. I looked up some of her songs and I didn’t know that she actually wrote ‘I Will Always Love You.’ She’s done a lot of great things and she doesn’t take any crap and I love that about her.”
While the rehearsal period may be soon coming to an end, Williams, Lowrey, and the rest of the cast and crew have enjoyed working together. As a cast and a crew, they have been able to cultivate a pleasant environment.
“It feels a lot safer,” Williams says. “You feel like there’s more of a sense of family and that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s inspiring and I’ve looked forward to going to rehearsal every night.”