Mandy Mitchell has a dream to one day be a gay icon. She may well be on her way to that status by stepping in the Double D size bra of gay icon Dolly Parton in The Legacy Theatre’s production of 9 to 5: The Musical. Ms. Mitchell portrays Doralee Rhodes, the sexy blonde secretary made famous in the film version of 9 to 5 by Ms. Parton herself.
Originally from the Boston area, Mandy is a graduate of Salem State University in Massachusetts with her degree in Theatre Performance. Before moving to Atlanta three years ago she starred in other iconic roles as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. Since taking up shop in Georgia she has appeared on stage with The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Nunsense, Winter Wonderettes), as well as the Spring Opera House, Newnan Theatre Company, Onstage Atlanta and several other companies.
Recently, Ms. Mitchell took a few moments out of rehearsals for 9 to 5: The Musical to talk to us about what it’s like to become Dolly Parton while singing Dolly’s own music, including the biographical tune “Backwoods Barbie.”
Why do you think Dolly Parton is considered such an important gay icon?
She’s sassy and she’s strong, which are definitely two personality traits that are important to being a gay icon. But I think that Dolly’s overwhelming strength even in the face of adversity is why the gay community idolizes her.
What draws people to the story of 9 to 5?
The show is all about taking control of your own future. It’s a throwback to a different time where “girl power” was more of an idea than an actual way of life. To see three women come together and take control of their lives and strengthen their bond of friendship is something everyone can either relate or aspire to. Its got strength peppered with some real great humor.
What challenges do you have as a performer in trying to make the role your own, while still keeping the spirit of Dolly in it?
It’s a tight wire act that’s for sure! As we go through rehearsals I’m trying to keep true to the script and pay my homage to Dolly as well. Obviously I’ll be. “enhanced” to look as much like her as I can. She wrote all the music so it’s easy to slip into that Dolly style.
Have you ever seen Dolly Parton perform?
I’ve never seen her in person. Movies, televised interviews. Dollywood’s on the bucket list though!
Have you seen 9 to 5: The Musical performed before? How does this production differ?
I had the opportunity to see the Broadway production when it first opened at the Marquis in New York City. It was such a fun theatrical experience. Our version doesn’t have the Broadway budget, but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves to keep our audience engaged! We’ve got an amazingly talented cast with great voices and great acting chops!
9 to 5: The Musical is based on the 1980 film, which starred Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. The musical originally opened on Broadway in April 2009 with a book by Patricia Resnick (who wrote the original movie screenplay) and music and lyrics by Dolly Parton.
9 to 5: The Musical runs Jan. 25–Feb. 17, 2013 at The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone. Tickets are $25 for Adults, $22 for Students & Seniors (60+) and $15 for Children 12 & Under. Tickets can be purchased online.
Want to win a pair of tickets? Leave us a comment below with your favorite 9 to 5 moment and we’ll pick a random winner on Friday.