Natalie will be more than pleased to say ‘hello Dolly’

Jackie Clune, left, Amy Lennox and Natalie Casey, right, in 9 to 5
Jackie Clune, left, Amy Lennox and Natalie Casey, right, in 9 to 5
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You could be really lucky and see Dolly Parton come on stage at the Lyceum in Sheffield next week to join the cast of 9 to 5 The Musical to sing the show’s title song.

And if she does appear, keep an eye on actress Natalie Casey, who plays the role of Judy Bernly.

She’s told the director to get in between her and the country music star in case she gets too excited and makes a grab for her!

Natalie, who starred in long-running BBC sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, said that Dolly, who wrote the musical based on the hit 1980 film that she starred in, is due to visit unannounced at some point on the tour. So far they have had video messages from her but not yet met.

Natalie said: “When I was auditioning, they were filming it. I thought that was strange because usually when you are auditioning everybody involved is in the room and especially when they’re Americans everybody is in the room.

“They were sending those tapes to Dolly Parton. If you don’t get the job, you’ve had a no from Dolly Parton.”

Natalie says it’s exciting because Dolly is such a big star and all the friends she told were excited too, “across the board, whether they were black, white, gay straight, men or women”, and everyone had a favourite song.

“There’s something about her about her that’s so genuine. She doesn’t pretend to be something she isn’t and that really strikes a chord.”

The show, which is on its first British tour after becoming a hit on Broadway, is a comedy that tells the story of three office workers who become so angry at their manipulative, sexist boss that they decide to take their revenge on him in no uncertain terms.

Natalie’s role was played by Jane Fonda in the film – she jokes “If she sees me doing this, she’ll probably hit me with one of her Oscars” – and she enjoys the way that Jan goes from a meek, downtrodden woman to someone who finally finds the strength to fight back. Natalie thinks that the theme of the show still strikes a chord with the audience today: “It’s absolutely insane the response you get. I have to sing alone on stage at the end of the second half about throwing my husband out. Women go insane for it, shouting out in the middle of the song. It’s scary

“It’s still relevant to today and that in a way is so enhancing and so depressing. So many women in the audience feel the same as those women.”

She admits she gets angry at men who assume there’s no reason for them to see a show about a group of women.

“This is a human story. You know that woman on stage. Men should be interested in it. You wouldn’t say the same about Jersey Boys – ‘oh, it’s just about a bunch of blokes singing’!”

Natalie is looking forward to visiting Sheffield as her first boyfriend, Nigel Hawthorne – not the actor – was a student at Hallam University. Her sister Anna Jane Casey and husband Paul Kemp have also appeared at the city’s theatres.

Like her stage character, Natalie formed a close bond with her co-stars, including comedian Jackie Clune.

She said: “Generally this is pretty much ranking up there as the best job I’ve ever done. I love it and I love the women that are on stage with me.”

And when Dolly turns up, it’ll be the icing on the cake!

9 to 5 The Musical is at the Lyceum Theatre, from April 22 to 27.