Dolly Parton is a woman of many accomplishments, and her latest transpired Friday (May 8) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Not only did she receive an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters, she also provided the commencement speech to the new graduates from the university’s college of arts and sciences.
Earlier in the week, however, she achieved another major milestone when the Broadway production of 9 to 5: The Musical grabbed four Tony Award nominations. Parton received a nomination for best original score (music and/or lyrics) written for the theater. Actress Alison Janney, who portrays Violet Newstead in the production, was nominated for best performance by a leading actress in a musical. Marc Kudisch, cast as office boss Franklin Hart Jr., is up for best performance by a featured actor in a musical. And a best choreography nomination went Andy Blankenbuehler.
In a CMT Insider report, Parton, Janney and Kudisch talked about the nominations.
Parton: I’ve been proud of anything that I’ve ever received, and being part of the Broadway scene is new and different for me, and it’s been a great adventure and a great experience. This is a great compliment.
Janney: I’m so excited for her. She so deserves this nomination. Dolly Parton is unbelievably talented and has written so many beautiful songs in her career, but to take on a Broadway musical … I just so admire her for taking a risk like that and hitting it out of the park, as far as I’m concerned. The audiences are loving it.
Parton: Just like with songwriters, you never know which ones are going to be hits, but you just write and hope for the best, and being nominated was a great honor and to win would just be unbelievable
Kudisch: Well, listen, this is her first musical — outside of the nomination and everything. I don’t have to talk to ya’ll about Dolly. You know her as well as anybody does. But to be able to share a first-time experience with somebody as iconic as she is, that’s really been amazing.
Parton: If I was going to do a Broadway thing, this is perfect because I’ve lived with those characters for 30 years. I wrote the “9 to 5” song for the movie that I did with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin 30 years ago. Of course, I knew all those characters so well that when they said they were doing it as a musical, I thought, “Well, I can do this better than I could if it was a piece of music or a story that I wasn’t familiar with. I actually think that when you got a lot of people depending on you, you want to be better than maybe you are. There’s something about that … that kind of pulls you up to another level. You don’t want to let these people down. You’ve gotta show them that country people know what they’re doing, too!
I guess it’s nerves, excitement, tension — just the suspense, I guess — but there’s a great rush in that, too. It’s like one of those things at the last minute where you don’t know. It could go either way. There’s a great power in that. But, of course, it’s kind of deflated if you don’t win. But if you do win, you just go to that other level, and let’s hope I get to feel that one!