9 to 5’s Erin Clare channels Dolly as Doralee Rhodes

Erin Clare isn’t just a Backwoods Barbie.
With the lead cast of 9 to 5 The Musical announced last month, it was revealed that Erin will be stepping into role of Doralee Rhodes, the character famously played by Dolly herself in the original film version of 9 to 5.
A powerhouse of a performer, Erin has played a brilliantly diverse variety of roles in the last few years including Courtney in American Psycho (Hayes Theatre), Scaramouche We Will Rock You (GFO), Alysha in American Idiot (Shake & Stir), Marie/Charlie in High Fidelity (Hayes Theatre), and Heather McNamara in Heathers (Hayes Theatre). I spoke with Erin about the show, and just what exactly audiences can expect from the upcoming production of 9 to 5.

How is this role different to others you’ve played?

I am really fortunate to have played some wonderfully diverse and multi-faceted characters throughout my career, but I have yet to be challenged with a character that is so iconic due to Dolly Parton’s brilliant portrayal. Doralee is such a unique blend of an outcast who has almost weaponised her sexuality to stay ahead in her sexist workplace, yet she does so with the utmost integrity and charm. I am really interested and excited to delve in.

The leading ladies of 9 to 5 – Erin Clare, Marina Prior, Samantha Dodemaide and Caroline O’Connor

Do you have anything in common with Doralee?

Unfortunately I think many women have been underestimated or undervalued due to the stigma connected with the way they look, present themselves or even the simple fact that they are female, so I can definitely relate to feeling like I have to work harder for my opinion to be heard. I really admire the way Doralee plays the game yet stays true to herself and I can relate to standing up for what I believe is right.

What are you most looking forward to about the show?

I am so excited to sing this wonderfully eclectic score that Dolly Parton has written, my vocal track is really interesting and I get to dive into country-pop sensibilities that I am yet to explore. There’s something so visceral about the title song, and the fact that the show opens this way is electric and nostalgic all at once.

Are you excited about working with Caroline, Marina and Sam?

When I found out I would be sharing the stage with THE Caroline O’Connor AND Marina Prior I was absolutely gobsmacked and elated and nervous all in one moment. Sharing the stage with these absolute icons is a dream of mine. I was lucky enough to audition with Sam and from our first read together, I knew we would have a really brilliant time. It’s going to be wild.

With the original film almost 40 years old, why do you think the story of 9 to 5 is still so relevant?

One of the things I found so interesting about the history of the film is that the idea for the screenplay was originally born from conversations with female employees in the late 1970s, and the content was in some cases so horrendous that the film was presented as a farce, with fantasy sequences surrounding women forming an uprising against the sexism and misogyny in the workplace. We are now 40 years later actually dealing with real life examples of this with the #metoo movement in full swing and equality being at the forefront of discussion. Alongside this, I think the universality of people banding together in the face of injustice to stand up for what is right allows the show’s relevance for the next 40 years.

Erin Clare and Gareth Keegan in We Will Rock You | Photo by Jeff Busby

Do you have a favourite song from the show?

There is a beautiful ballad in Act 1 called “I Just Might” that the three ladies sing when they are fantasising about overcoming their individual hardships. The way that Dolly has layered these three parts over a truly beautiful contemporary pop ballad is a really lovely moment in the show, and the first insight into the vulnerabilities within these women.

Why should audiences come see 9 to 5 The Musical?

I think it really is a truly uplifting story about empowering women, and in 2019 it is more important than ever to have this innately female story told by four dynamic leading ladies. This paired with a score written by Dolly Parton, one the most versatile and prolific songwriters of all time. The show is so special and one not to be missed.

9 to 5 The Musical opens at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre in April 2020.
Tickets and more information are available at the 9 to 5 website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of AussieTheatre.com. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

One thought on “9 to 5’s Erin Clare channels Dolly as Doralee Rhodes

  • Will this musical come to Melbourne.


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