While I've always admired Dolly Parton as a singer, actress and philanthropist, I can't say that I've been a fan. However, dating a longtime Dolly devotee the last ten months has helped bring me around. Also, her recently released CD, Backwoods Barbie(she actually wrote the title song for her soon-to-premiere stage musical 9 to 5), is a wonderful achievement.
Dolly just began her latest US tour, and I was fortunate to catch it last weekend at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. In short, Dolly was fantastic. She looks and sounds great, does plenty of stand-up comedy and talks a lot about her past and family. This may be old news to those of you who are longtime fans, but she was a revelation to me.
The song selections in L.A. were wonderful (I understand she changes her set pretty frequently, so it may be different if you catch her elsewhere). Dolly sang plenty of older hits, with "Islands in the Stream", "Coat of Many Colors", "Little Sparrow" and, of course, the Academy Award nominated "9 to 5" particular standouts. She closed the first half with a gospel-revival medley of "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show", "When the Saints Go Marching In" and "Calm on the Water" that literally had the diverse crowd, including plenty of gay men and lesbian women, on its feet. And there were several selections from Backwoods Barbie, including "Better Get to Livin'", her cover of Fine Young Cannibals' "You Drive Me Crazy", "Only Dreamin'", and her encore (and my new personal anthem) "Jesus & Gravity".
The only thing that would have made the L.A. concert better would be if she'd sung "Travelin' Thru", her Oscar-nominated song from Transamerica, but that's a personal quibble. If Dolly comes to your town, don't hesitate to buy tickets.
And in other Dolly-related news, watch here over the next few weeks for interviews with key talent behind the Broadway-bound 9 to 5, as well as my review of its September 3rd world premiere in LA!
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.