For realz! So I can finally cross that off my bucket list.
We went to the Chicago grand opening of 9 to 5: The Musical this week, and Dolly herself showed up, complete with a walk down a laughably short red carpet, given how close the Bank of America Theatre (née LaSalle Bank Theatre, née Shubert Theatre) is to the street and how elfin its vestibule and lobby are.
The fact that she was going to be at the show wasn’t widely publicized, so there wasn’t a massive, Dolly-worthy crowd waiting for her. Which meant one thing: more room for us to see her!
Unfortunately, that elfin vestibule gave her about 1.4 seconds to wave to the crowd on her right as she walked in … and by the time those 1.4 seconds were up she was so close to the lobby door that it looked like she wouldn’t even turn to face those of us on her left. So I panicked and took this picture of the back of her head:
Of course, the millisecond after I took the picture she turned and waved at us … as my iPhone struggled through its 17-minute process of thinking about the picture it just took. So the above picture is all I have to show Dolly and I were in the same room together … no doubt both thinking about how good I’d look in her red Best Little Whorehouse in Texas finale dress.
But! She was introduced to the audience before the show by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who takes awkward speeches and ill-timed references to funerals to an all-time low. And when he mentioned it was her birthday, the whole audience spontaneously broke into a chorus of Happy Birthday. And since only gay men and women who can’t get dates go to musicals written by Dolly Parton, our Happy Birthday was in full harmony.
And after the show, the cast interrupted their bows to bring Dolly back up on stage, present her with a cake … and sing Happy Birthday with the audience again … this time with a full orchestra! And again with the harmony.
It was enough to drive you giddy. If you let it.