Megan Hilty of Broadway’s “9 to 5”
On singing with Dolly Parton, hugging Julia Roberts and nearly cutting off Eva Longoria’s hair
28 year-old Megan Hilty stars as Doralee Rhodes in the Broadway sensation, 9 to 5. The character of Doralee was originally written for Dolly Parton in the big screen movie that also starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Dolly took pen to paper and wrote all music and lyrics to create a stage version of the 80’s hit – some of the songs are included on her album, Backwoods Barbie. The Broadway show has been nominated for four Tony Awards and features Megan taking the stage with Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block for 8 sold out shows a week in New York City. Most nights you can spot Dolly, herself, sitting in the wings watching off the stage.
When was your first meeting with Dolly Parton?
It was 2 ½ years ago at the first reading I did of 9 to 5. I was so nervous to perform for a living legend and do it in her first Broadway show. Dolly is the most genuinely kind person I have ever met in my entire life and she put my fears and anxiety out the window that first day.
What is your favorite song in the show?
My favorite songs changes every night. Right now, it is “I Just Might,” a new song that we didn’t do in LA. It’s for all three of our characters and it is a beautiful trio about how we’re going to get through the situation (kidnapping) with Mr. Hart.
Is Dolly Parton funny in person?
Dolly is very quick with her Southern humor and she’s always saying unexpected things. She was in the bathroom with me and I had just met her. She was in the stall next to me doing a play by play of how my pee sounded. I had stage fright.
Also, with fans she will sign every single thing that everyone asks for and she insists on meeting and saying hello to everyone. She likes to make people happy.
Did she teach you how to sing any of her songs?
Not at all. Whenever I ask for advice she always says, “You’re doing fine.”
Did you watch the movie, 9 to 5, to prepare?
I watched it once and then quickly put it away. I knew this role was going to be tricky because so many people remember her in the movie. That character was based on Dolly Parton the person. I knew it would be a delicate balance to pay homage to the movie and finding things that were my own. I didn’t want to just do an impersonation.
Biggest slip up onstage?
I am constantly saying crazy stuff. We have a list of funny stuff that comes out of my mouth. This week, I was in the middle of the scene where I pull the phone cord out of the wall. Mr. Hart, played by Marc Kudisch, picked up the phone and the cord was already out of the wall and you can’t pretend like that didn’t happen. I said something stupid and winged it and the audience went crazy – as we all tried valiantly not to laugh. Dolly came running to the side of the stage and said, “thank goodness you’re so quick!”
Biggest celebrity to come to a show?
At one of our previews two weeks ago, I was in my dressing room and the door opened. Julia Roberts was waiting to meet me! I still had my wig cap on and all my stage makeup. Julia just walked into my dressing room and hugged me like a sister. I try to not be star struck and not gush in the moment and then later I freak out!
What was it like to play opposite Eva Longoria Parker on 2 episodes of Desperate Housewives this year?
Of course I was playing a mistress. I’m always a hooker or a mistress! The big scene that I had was a fight with Eva and I played a hairdresser. I threatened to cut off a big chunk of her hair – I had to spin her around and threaten her with scissors.
The paparazzi were everywhere at this little hair salon in Burbank. I thought I was going to be all over the Internet as the girl who stabbed Eva Longoria!
What’s next after 9 to 5?
After doing 8 shows a week it is like a vacation to be working on a TV show. I’m focused on the show now, but eventually, I’ll do more film and television. Walking on set and doing a scene a couple of times is like a dream.
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