Interview with Patricia Resnick

 
 

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
myself."

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 New York, doing the first
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
musical?
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
girlfriend."


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
married.

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