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Performing Arts

‘5’ star

Take a memo: Former ‘American Idol’ runner-up Diana DeGarmo takes the stage for ‘9 to 5: The Musical.’

Rod Lott June 8th, 2011

9 to 5: The Musical
7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker, 297-2264

In the past five years, Diana DeGarmo has been imprisoned, seen her true love murdered and birthed a blind, green baby. Now, she’s sexually harassed on a nightly basis.

What a way to make to a living. Relax. The incidents above took place on the theater stage, from Broadway to touring productions of, respectively, “Hairspray,” “West Side Story,” “The Toxic Avenger” and “9 to 5: The Musical.” She’s currently starring in the latter, filling out the Dolly Parton role from the movie on which it’s based. On a national tour through July, “9 to 5” punches the clock through Sunday at Civic Center Music Hall.

The 23-year-old Alabama native wasn’t even born when the comedy about three secretaries taking revenge on their boss came out in 1980, but not to worry.

“Like any respectable Southern woman, I have seen it plenty of times,” DeGarmo said. “I’ve been a Dolly fan as far back as I can remember. We opened in Nashville, where she lives, and she’s just been so supportive from day one.”

For the musical, Parton wrote a new score, and had final blessing on who would assume her character of Doralee — approval that DeGarmo doesn’t take lightly.

“The movie was so iconic to us, so iconic for her. It was her first break into superstardom,” DeGarmo said. “She was already well-known, but this put her on the map all around the world. I took the role very seriously and honor her, but at the same time, I’ve been given some creative freedom to do my own thing.”

That thing has worked for her since coming to the nation’s attention on the third season of “American Idol.” Then all of 16, she ultimately finished in second place and released an album, but found acting more fulfilling.

“When you’re doing theater ... a fourth wall is created,” she said. “The stage is your own world.”

Visitors to Civic Center’s stage for “9 to 5” are promised a musical that will prove familiar to viewers of the original film, but not derivative.

“For the most part, our production follows closely with the movie. There are a few exceptions that we couldn’t do onstage, like the car chase,” DeGarmo said. “But it offers something that’s more for the theatrical audience. For those people who loved the movie, you will be more than happy.”

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