AE: What did you write that didn’t
make it into the movie?
PR: It was originally a darker comedy. In place of the fantasies, I had
them actually trying to kill the boss. It was much blacker.
We were having trouble finding a director who could come in [during] the
very small window of time we could get Lily, Jane and Dolly. They finally found a director who was a
writer-director. He came in and said, "OK, I want do it, but I’m going to
re-write it, and I don’t really work with other people, so I’m going to do it
AE: Figures. So, you’re credited with
the story and have a co-writing credit on the screenplay.
PR: And over the years, it’s become so beloved, that when I became involved
in doing the musical, I didn’t really look back at my old scripts because the
movie is so iconic now, that we certainly needed to start there.
AE: If the play were a big departure
from what people know of the movie, it would be confusing to some and maybe
disappointing to others.
PR: Absolutely. No question. It is different, because it’s a musical, and
it is a theater piece and I wrote it in 1979 about ’79, and now we’re doing it
in 2008 about 1979. So, that in itself, it gives you a different perspective.
And I’m definitely able to mine some of the humor out of that fact that we’re
looking back at that time.
AE: Do you think the story still
resonates in 2008?
PR: We’re 51% of the population, but we’re unbelievably underrepresented:
Eight female CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. And yes, women make 71 cents on
the dollar. Sexual harassment still exists, it’s just not as blatant. I think Nine to Five still has a lot to say.
When we first started talking about doing this, doing some workshops in
interviews, everyone would say to me, "Well, how is it relevant now?"
I was like, "What world do you live in?"
AE: Did you want the play to be a
PR: Yeah, absolutely. I love musicals. I always say that I’m a gay man in a
lesbian’s body. I grew up going to the theater. I can sing every word to every
song ever written. I was thrilled at the idea of it being a musical.
AE: Dolly Parton had a huge hit with
the title song. Have you ever seen her perform?
PR: I’ve sat in her apartment and had her play the guitar in front of me.
AE: What did she sing for you?
PR: She sang "I Will Always Love You." It was one of the best
moments I’ve ever had.
AE: No kidding.
PR: Yeah, to sit alone with Dolly Parton and have her sing that?
AE: That’s an interesting song to
choose. Maybe she had a crush on you.
PR: When we were rehearsing, I was on the cover of Lesbian News. We were in the back of the theater and I said,
"If I don’t get a date from this, I just give up." And she said,
"No, now that we’re doing this, everyone’s going to think that you’re my
Photo credit: Walter McBride/Retna Ltd
AE: What does that mean? She’s not…
PR: No. But she told me that if she was, she would marry me, which I took
as a very big compliment. Unfortunately, she’s not [gay]. She’s happily