Laura secured an exclusive online interview with 9 To 5 scriptwriter Patricia Resnick! Read on to see what she had to say …
Anyone who has ever seen the movie “9 to 5”, starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, will know that the script is absolutely hilarious. It is also witty, poignant and full of realism, drawing heavily from the experiences of countless women in the workplace.
Patricia Resnick wrote the script for the original movie and the book for the musical, meaning that the style and humour from the movie have been retained and the characters are true to their original incarnations.
Patricia has written numerous movie and TV scripts throughout her career, including the Dolly Parton and James Woods comedy “Straight Talk” and “Quintet”, starring Paul Newman. More recently she was nominated for a 2015 Writers Guild of America Award for Television (Dramatic Series) for her work on the hit TV show “Mad Men”.
As well as film and TV writing, Patricia has also written extensively for theatre. Her long-running relationship with Lily Tomlin began with writing sketches for Lily’s first one-woman Broadway show, “Appearing Nitely”; she has subsequently created a stage musical adaptation of her own PBS movie, “Ladies in Waiting”.
Her work on “9 to 5 The Musical” earned Patricia two Drama Desk Award nominations in 2009; one for Outstanding Musical and the other for Outstanding Book of a Musical.
Writing for the stage is very different to writing for the screen and we were really interested to find out how the creative process worked in bringing “9 to 5 The Musical” to life. We got in touch with Patricia to find out some more about her experience of getting Violet, Judy and Doralee to the stage and are delighted to share her answers with you!
Have you always been interested in musical theatre, or was it the “9 to 5” project that drew you into that world?
I grew up in Florida but the majority of my family are New Yorkers so we spent lots of time in the city. My parents introduced me to theatre when I was young and I fell in love with musicals. I was lucky enough to see the original productions of everything from “Cabaret”, to “Follies”, “Company” and more!
The original movie is a classic and the title track is famous the world over. What inspired you and Dolly Parton to turn the movie into a musical?
I had a meeting with Robert Greenblatt who was a TV producer at the time (he now runs NBC) and he mentioned that he always thought “9 to 5” would be a great musical. The first thing we did was fly to Nashville to try and get Dolly involved and luckily she said yes.
You were reunited with Dolly on the movie “Straight Talk”, which is brilliant. How does the writing process for the stage show differ from your usual approach to writing a movie od TV script?
Thanks for the compliment on “Straight Talk.” There are definitely some things that I had to learn in terms of writing for the stage. One was, since you can’t cut, if you want someone to do something like appear onstage in a different costume you need to physically give them the time to change offstage. It seems like a small thing but it led to Roz’s song “5 to 9” because we needed to get our leads offstage and changed and had to come up with something to be going on up there. The other thing was the use of sets. Bringing on something like Mr. Hart’s office is a big deal so onstage I couldn’t just put a tiny scene in his office, then go to another set and then come back to his office.
Do you have a favourite musical?
That’s so hard. Probably “West Side Story” and more recently “Hamilton.”
Are there any musical theatre performers who you really admire?
Angela Lansbury, Christine Ebersole, Alan Cumming, to name just a few. I admire theatre actors so much. It’s an incredibly difficult job.
The message in “9 to 5” is one of inspiring and empowering women, not only in the workplace, but also in life. These themes are just as relevant now as they were in 1979 when the show is set, particularly the corporate glass ceiling. Does it frustrate you that, 38 years after the original movie was released, women are still struggling for equality in the workplace?
Yes, it drives me crazy. Sexual harassment is still happening, the men are just quieter about it, equal pay for equal work has still not been reached and here in America I worry that our reproductive rights may be tampered with.
Which is your favourite track from the “9 to 5” musical score and why?
I love the whole score but I guess my favorite is still “9 to 5”. I hear that opening beat and my pulse starts to race.
The script for “9 to 5 the Musical” is very similar to the movie, but there have been some changes. Which is your favourite scene from the movie that didn’t make it onto the stage?
Hmmmm. I don’t think I have an answer to this. At this point the movie and musical are so mixed up in my mind.
The three of us playing Violet, Judy and Doralee have really enjoyed setting the Maui Wowie scene and the three dream sequences during the last couple of weeks. Do you have a favourite scene in the stage show?
This is sort of like being asked to name your favorite child. You love them all for different reasons.
“9 to 5” is packed full of strong female characters, especially Violet, Judy, Doralee and Roz. Do you have a favourite character out of these and what makes her most special to you?
Remember that favorite child thing? See above. Honestly, Violet has always had a special place in my heart. She’s just so good at what she does and so unappreciated. But shhhhhhh, don’t tell the other characters. I do really love them all, even Roz!
Thank you do much Patricia for sharing your experiences with us, we really appreciate it!
Find out more:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105481/?ref_=m_ttfcd_tt Straight Talk
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804503/?ref_=nv_sr_1 Mad Men