"Being Doralee:" An Interview with Kyra Orgass

White female student with long brown hair smiling.

Published April 19, 2024

Senior Music Theatre major Kyra Orgass will be one of the featured actors in THD’s upcoming production of 9 to 5 The Musical, running April 26 – May 5, 2024 at UB Center for the Arts. Cast as Doralee Rhodes, a role originated by show creator Dolly Parton, Orgass provides insights about her process and what audiences can expect during the two-weekend run. Get your tickets early!

What’s been your favorite part of the rehearsal process and preparing to play the role of Doralee? 

My favorite part of the rehearsal process has been playing with the vocal stylings I use for Doralee.  Since she is so heavily based on Dolly's real voice and personality, I spent some time watching Dolly interviews from the 80s and listening to a lot of her music.  She has such a specific speech pattern, and it was so much fun getting to practice the rhythm which she speaks at and inflections she uses. 

Before you were cast, did you see the original movie upon which the musical is based? Or after? If so, what did you think of it and what are some differences or aspects of the musical which might surprise patrons who are only familiar with the movie?

I didn't see the movie before I was cast, but over winter break I actually watched it while quarantining with COVID. I really enjoyed it and was surprised at how well the humor held up today. I'd say the musical is pretty similar to the movie, with more of a classic musical theatre 'wow' factor added to it. Whether or not you know the movie, this show is a crowd pleaser.

How does the relationship between Violet, Judy and Doralee evolve over the course of the show?

At the beginning of the show, all three women feel alienated and alone in their own ways.  Violet isn't getting recognized for the promotion she deserves, Judy is going through a divorce, and the office has the completely wrong idea about Doralee. It's really heartwarming to see these women realize that the key to getting through these tough times is to let people in and really lean on each other.  They create a beautiful friendship (albeit through farcical circumstances). At its core, it's a show about friendship and adversity.

Is it fun “beating up on” Ryan Butler as Franklin Hart, Jr? How well has he taken it?

It is so much fun getting to pick on Ryan, and he's a great sport about it. The dynamic between our characters is certainly delicate and I'm glad to be opposite someone who's been extremely considerate and respectful (and lets the girls rag on him during every scene). It's also been cathartic to get to live out turning the power dynamic between our characters on its head. Through Doralee, I get to give each man who's underestimated me a piece of my mind, and that's felt very freeing.

9 to 5 logo.

What’s your favorite song to sing in the show, and why?

My favorite is "Cowgirl's Revenge." This takes place during a dream sequence where each of the ladies is imagining ways they'd "get rid of" Mr. Hart. During this song I chase Ryan around the stage in a Barbie cowgirl outfit and literally lasso him down. I get to sing in a country yodel-ish style, which is very different from anything I've done before. It is so much fun to perform and is definitely my favorite part of the show. 

Have you ever had a role like Doralee before? What’s been the most challenging aspect? Is it difficult to play a role which is so famous in pop culture? What have you tried to do to make it “yours?”

The reason I was so drawn to Doralee was because I've never played a character like her before. Having to replicate the vocals and persona of a living person, who is so different from me, was a challenge I really wanted to take on. It definitely is difficult because Dolly is such a beacon of pop culture, especially for the 80s. I think I've tried to embrace a little of her wacky side and really let her express herself once she gets comfortable in her friendship with Violet and Judy. 

If you were asked to make a one sentence “pitch” to a potential patron about why they should see this particular production of 9 to 5, what would you say?

It's a classic, high production musical comedy with a pop score and some familiar favorites (such as the title song)! Theatre lovers will love it and non-theatre folk will be surprised at how much they love it!

If there’s anything else you’d like to share about your experiences working on the show, please feel free to share!

This show is a beast tech and costume wise. We couldn't have done it without the amazing costume shop and student/faculty tech crew who work around the clock!