I  love Dolly Parton. I love her little Confucius-style Dollyisms, I love her music, I love the concept of Dollywood. So I’m pretty sure I’ll love the jukebox musical based on her hits, 9 to 5. I must emphasize that I am as critical of the jukebox musical trends as most other lovers of ‘proper’ theatre, but the bottom line is they do well, bring in money and possibly even enable producers to go on and produce something more organic. Plus, lots of them are good, clean fun. The plot is based on the 1980 movie of the same name, with Dolly’s soulful and perky country tunes leading the way for the narrative. Whether it turns out to be a foot-tapper or a flop in the UK, I would still love to be Dolly just for a day… she seems to have such fun with life as well as having such great singing and songwriting talent at the core.

Dolly spoke to BBC Breakfast this morning about 9 to 5, which will start its UK tour at Manchester’s Opera House in October 2012. God love her for a) not throwing a diva strop at being asked to sing and b) still sounding fantastic at 66 (yes…. sixty-bloody-six). The show’s run on Broadway earned it four Tony Award nominations, which speaks highly of it, and if it captures even a little of Dolly’s chutzpah and sparkle, it’ll be a great night out.


This time last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Atherton, who I’ve long admired since seeing her early on in Avenue Q and later in The Last Five Years. She’s performing at The Pheasantry on the Kings Road tonight and tomorrow night, and although she didn’t give much away in our chat, you can bet it will be a stunning show.

Since then two more pieces of Atherton news have popped up (every interviewer’s nightmare – just missing the big questions by a week): her biggest solo gig to date at the Apollo Theatre on 26th June, and her casting as Sister Mary Robert in the Sister Act UK tour.

Julie had hinted at a tour in our interview, but news of this role came as a surprise.  It was posted on the BroadwayWorld message boards and confirmed by the lady herself on Twitter today. Not many people have both the charm and the lungs for the role originated by Katie Rowley Jones, but Miss Atherton has oodles of both. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she brings to it.

Julie Atherton As Julie has focused her energy on performing and promoting new work, mainly in London and on the fringe, for the past few years, a regional tour should earn her many more fans.

I had a great time at Sister Act when I went in its first week, and thought it closed far too quickly. We still haven’t found out who will be our Deloris – I have my fingers crossed for some fabulous unknown talent from the open auditions – but with this piece of news further casting announcements can’t be far behind.*

Look out for a review of the Apollo gig on here – I’m looking forward to seeing Julie paired with guests such as Daniel Boys for some great songs; she has impeccable taste when it comes to up and coming musical theatre. She’s set to perform tracks from her brilliantly-received album No Space for Air, alongside songs from her most famous shows. Favoured composers Lance Horne and Michael Bruce will even pop up to accompany her, and Richard Fleeshman is taking a break from his Ghost duties to join her for a duet.

Congrats to Julie on the new role, the new concert, and her Pheasantry shows this weekend. If you aren’t yet a fan, get yourself to one of these – I promise you will be afterwards.

*Rumours are rife that Deloris will be played by Cynthia Erivo of Umbrellas of Cherbourg fame. Cynthia reportedly announced the casting in a tweet some weeks ago – unlike the demure Patina Miller, she’s pretty outspoken on Twitter, so WEG has high hopes for some Van Cartier attitude! However, the tweet and a blog post about it have both been removed, so this isn’t 100% official.