When AK and I saw Rilo Kiley play at the Grove in Orange County a few months ago, their opening act was, somewhat randomly, Dolly Parton. It seemed she’d followed them home from a gig in Vegas.
“Wait, okay, I feel a little stupid for asking, but that’s not really Dolly Parton, right?” I whispered to AK.
No, it wasn’t. But the real live Dolly did show up at the Ahmanson last night to introduce the new musical version of 9 to 5, for which she wrote the music and lyrics.
“They’re still working some of the kinks out, so if they’ve gotta stop the show for a minute, be nice,” she said. I wanted to curl up in her voice and nap like a kitten. “I’ll just put on a show or something,” she laughed.
“So that is the real Dolly, right?” I whispered.
Yes! And the show—which was lots of fun if not exactly groundbreaking—did hit a technical glitch shortly before intermission, and even though Dolly appeared to have been kidding when she said she’d put on a show, she led sing-along versions of “9 to 5” and “I Will Always Love You.” I’ve never seen a theater crowd so close to throwing its panties at the stage.
AK and I had gone to celebrate our two-year anniversary, which was actually six months ago, but we’re slackers like that. AK saw the movie 9 to 5 dozens of times when she was younger and was totally giddy when Dolly showed up. Earlier in the evening I’d enjoyed bumming around in the twinkle lights of the Music Center, watching happy dressed-up people buzz with energy and eat overpriced salads, remembering my college days when I saw plays and musicals all the time. What I love about the theater, I remembered, is the same thing everyone loves about Dolly: Even when it’s fake, it’s real.