It's rare that a touring Broadway show begins its run in Nashville — but then again, how many Broadway shows are so closely associated with Dolly Parton, who not only starred in the movie on which it's based, but also wrote the mega-hit title track and the Tony- and Grammy-nominated score? The musicalized version of the funny yet pointed saga of sexism and revenge in the Rolodex era, 9 to 5: The Musical, had a five-month Broadway run in 2009, and with today's gloom-and-doom job market, the trials and tribulations of Judy, Violet and Doralee might seem downright quaint and nostalgic.
It won't hurt that the leading players — including Dee Hoty, Mamie Parris, Joseph Mahowald and Kristine Zbornik — bring strong Broadway, TV and concert track records to the task. Playing Doralee Rhodes (Dolly's role in the film) is American Idol finalist Diana DeGarmo, who gained overnight fame at age 16 as a runner-up on the talent show's third season. Though a true Southerner — she was born in Birmingham, raised in Snellville, Ga., and currently resides in Music City, where she co-writes and performs — DeGarmo has garnered some serious New York acting credits, including Broadway productions of Hairspray and Hair and the off-Broadway musical The Toxic Avenger. Sept. 21-26 at TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall
• David Dorfman Dance (8 p.m. Sept. 24 in Vanderbilt's Langford Auditorium)
Great Performances at Vanderbilt inaugurates its new season of dance, music and theater events with this New York City company, founded in 1985 and renowned internationally. The Nashville date serves as the first public performance of DDD's new piece, Prophets of Funk — Dance to the Music, as the ensemble goes rhythmically ballistic to the accompaniment of the funky sounds of Sly and the Family Stone.
• Bud, Not Buddy (Sept. 28-Oct. 17 at Nashville Children's Theatre)
Nashville Children's Theatre opens its new season with this stage adaptation of the award-winning novel by Christopher Paul Curtis. A young boy searches for his father during the Great Depression, and his journey leads him into the world of jazz. NCT newcomer N. Staggs stars, supported by some of Nashville's finest players, including Shawn Whitsell, David Chattam, Jon Royal, Aleta Myles and Alicia Haymer. Scot Copeland directs.
• Rent (Oct. 1-31 at Boiler Room Theatre in The Factory at Franklin)
The late Jonathan Larson's pop-rock reworking of the La Boheme story has proved to be one of the more popular musicals of the last couple of decades. Boiler Room Theatre serves up a rare local mounting of the Pulitzer Prize winner, in which a group of East Village bohemians deal with relationships, careers and the physical and emotional complications of AIDS. Expect BRT's usual energetic actors and singers. The Green brothers, Corbin and Jamey, handle the direction.
• To Kill a Mockingbird (Oct. 2-23 at TPAC's Johnson Theater)
Once again affirming its status as an arts organization of proud Southern character, Tennessee Repertory Theatre opens its 2010-2011 season with Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's classic novel. This same script was performed by Circle Players a scant six months ago, but Rep artistic director Rene Copeland aims to up the ante with a strong cast of local pros, including Chip Arnold as Atticus Finch, plus David Compton, Denice Hicks, Bakari King and Marin Miller.
• Swan Lake (Oct. 29-31 at TPAC's Polk Theater)
Nashville Ballet kicks off its 25th anniversary season with an enduring classic, which features Tchaikovsky's timeless score and provides the ensemble with some very challenging technical demands. Former Houston Ballet soloist Dawn Scannell has been brought in to set the choreography, with the production under the overall supervision of artistic director Paul Vasterling. Gifted company veterans Sadie Harris and Christine Rennie share the big solo duties. Nashville Symphony accompanies.
• The Piper (Dec. 3-12 at Belmont's Black Box Theater)
Composer Marcus Hummon, author of numerous hit country songs, stage musicals and the opera Surrender Road, returns to Actors Bridge Ensemble with a fable set in Boston in the mid-19th century, during the second great wave of Irish immigration. An ex-prostitute and her crippled but musically gifted daughter attempt to forge a new life — but danger lurks on the mean city streets. ABE has previously produced five other world premieres of Hummon's musical pieces.
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