Dee Hoty has distinguished herself as one of Broadway’s favorite leading ladies, earning Tony Award nominations for her starring roles in The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Footloose. She starred on Broadway and in eight major U.S. cities as Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and most recently as Mrs. MacAfee in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Bye Bye Birdie.  Dee is now touring the United States as Violet in the National Tour of 9 To 5, opening Tuesday for a one-week engagement at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts in Costa Mesa.  The Broadway star took time out of a very busy touring schedule to answer our questions in this fun (and informative) interview!


Hi Dee.  I’ve loved your stage performances in Mamma Mia at the Ahmanson, later at the Pantages in Doctor Dolittle, and most recently your terrific work as Kay Thompson in Stormy Weather at the Pasadena Playhouse, so I’m very excited to be seeing you in 9 To 5.  You’ve had the kind of career most up-and-coming triple threats still only dream of, spanning Broadway, National Tours, regional theater, film and TV. I can’t help wondering, is there anything you would absolutely love to do that you haven’t done yet? 

Yes, I’ve had a pretty great career. It’s one that I don’t think could be re-created today, short of an “Idol-type” identity, in other words record deal, soap, TV, film, pre-existing profile.  That said, I would love do more plays.  I began in regional theater, at the Cleveland Play House, and miss that.  

Any role in particular you’d love to tackle?

I’d love to play Regina in The Little Foxes, for example, as well as have an original musical written for me.  A girl can dream, huh?!

Hopefully someone with the power to do both these things will be reading this interview! Going on, I’m always curious as to when a performer’s acting bug first bit. Were you exposed to theater growing up?  

I guess the members of my family would reply that there was always enough “eggs to go along with the ham.’”  I was the youngest, and always jockeying for attention. Always a good singer, with the loudest voice, I did solos in grade school, and then through Junior and Senior High School.  Having discovered the theater through school plays in Junior High, I discovered musicals in High School, and that was that. 

What was the very first role Dee Hoty ever played?

My first role was a “walk-off’ in The Madwoman Of Chaillot followed by the two-line role of the Queen of Transylvania in My Fair Lady. Heady stuff!

Dee as Alaura Kingsley in City Of Angels

You originated roles in City Of Angels and The Will Rogers Follies, two shows which have gone on to spawn a gazillion regional, college, high school, and community theater productions. What was it like being part of two such iconic musicals at their very origins? 

Ah, both City Of Angels and The Will Rogers Follies are very close to my heart.  It was thrilling to be a part of these now iconic shows.  In City, I remember the cast and creative team feeling we were really on to something special.  We just didn’t know if anyone else would think so. Thankfully, they did, and we were a huge hit!  

What about “The Follies?”

For The Will Rogers Follies, I knew I had “stepped in roses,” so to speak:  Tommy Tune, Cy Coleman, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Peter Stone?  OMG, as they say…pinch me now! It was an amazing feeling, and one for which I am still grateful … and it was my first Tony nom, too!

Dee as Donna in Mamma Mia!

That’s so exciting!  You’ve also undertaken parts originated by other performers and made them very much your own, Donna in Mamma Mia and your current role as Violet in 9 to 5 as cases in point.  Do you take any different approach when following someone else in a role than when you create one from scratch?

Stepping in to previously-created roles is only different from creating one yourself by virtue of the distance from their ending to my beginning! I always begin with the text.  The words on the page always point me to the character. After that, I can only be “Dee Hoty.”  I can’t be anyone else playing the part.  I do sometimes add an “homage” or two to certain “createes” if you will, but I’ll never tell where or when.  As we say in our business, “Steal from the best, baby!”

Good advice for any fledgling performer! Having done a number of National Tours, what is it about the touring life that you most enjoy?  

Ah, touring. It’s getting harder to move my life around every week. On Sundays, especially, when it’s time to sling “ten pounds of stuff in a five-pound bag!” I’m a little better at it, but really, that’s not the fun part.  Not glamorous orromantic in any way!

But there must be good sides, right?

It is fun to see the country, meet the people, and catch up with friends and family all around, however.  When you tour, you really have no other obligations beyond what happens nightly at 8 p.m.  When you’re home, you have to deal with your life every day.  Answer phone calls, make calls, arrange auditions and times (if you’re lucky!), open the mail, go to the bank, grocery shop, etc.  Life stuff.  There is much less of that on the road. And computers have changed what paying bills, etc. used to entail while traveling.

What do you miss most about your “normal” life when touring?

I do miss sleeping in my own bed and walking to work!

Besides your Broadway and touring experiences, you’ve also starred in major regional theaters quite literally in the four corners of the U.S.  Are there any theaters that have treated you especially well, stages you’d return to in a heartbeat?

Yes, I love the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, TUTS in Houston, and of course, my “alma mater,” The Cleveland Play House.  I got my start there, and my Equity card!

Leslie Uggams as Lena Horen and Dee as Kay Thompson in Stormy Weather

As Kay Thompson in Stormy Weather, you not only got to play one of the great ladies of stage and screen to much acclaim, but to do a mostly dramatic role rather than a song and dance extravaganza. Looking back, what about playing Kay (both in Pasadena and Philadelphia) stands out for you most?

I loved playing Kay Thompson in Stormy Weather.  The best part of it all was working with the great Leslie Uggams.  What a fabulous woman, excellent actress, and terrific person.  I count her as a friend now, too. Lucky me!  As a person, Kay was as iconic as her reputation, and her work. I took a few liberties—again, I can only be “Dee Hoty” playing K. T.—but in the context of the show, I had a ball being funny and helping move the plot!

Your career has been primarily stage based.  Do you miss the audiences and the performance continuity you get from live theater when you’re doing film and TV work, or is this a medium that you find just as satisfying?

What film and TV work lacks in audience input and contact is made up for by the salary.  ‘Nuff said!

Dee as Violet in 9 To 5 (with Mamie Parris and Diana DeGarmo)

You’re now touring the country with 9 To 5, a show I had the pleasure of seeing twice in its pre-Broadway engagement at the Ahmanson.  This is one of the first times I can recall a Broadway show touring with a brand new director/choreographer and several different designers as well.  How have their visions reshaped what was seen in L.A. and on Broadway?

Yes, this 9 To 5 is a re-thought, re-designed version of both the film and the production you saw previously. I think it’s a streamlined, more focused version.  Still funny, still that story, but distilled and clearer.

Why do you think 9 To 5 continues to resonate with audiences thirty plus years since the movie’s debut, despite the gains women have made in the workplace?

I think 9 To 5 resonates still because although we are today reminded of how far we’ve come, it underlines how far we’ve yet to go. There are still many inequalities in the workplace, not just for women, but for religion, race, sexual preference, etc. The best thing about Patricia Resnick’s book for our show is that it’s funny about it all.  Everyone gets their lumps, so to speak!

What’s your favorite Violet moment in the show?

My favorite Violet moment in the show is …not what you’d think.  You’d probably guess it would be my big number in Act 2, “One of the Boys,” and of course I like that, but it isn’t.  There are many, but I have a sweet scene with the character of Josh, my son, in Act One. It’s very dear, just a regular conversation, a few lines. Additionally, I really like watching from the wings in the moments before I enter.  I love watching my fellow performers, from both onstage and off.  It’s such a great way to learn.

Another great piece of advice for up-and-comers. Thanks so much Dee for taking the time to answer our questions. I’m so very excited to be seeing you on stage for the fourth time on Opening Night of 9 To 5 in Costa Mesa!

Click here to purchase tickets for 9 To 5.

More about Dee:
Dee Hoty’s other Broadway shows include City of Angels (Outer Critics Circle Nomination), Me and My Girl, Big River, The Five O’Clock Girl, and Shakespeare’s Cabaret. She starred opposite Tommy Tune in the recent National Tour of Doctor Dolittle, starred opposite Stacy Keach in the First National Tour of Barnum, and won a Joe Jefferson (Chicago) Award playing Betty Blake in the First National Tour of The Will Rogers Follies.

Dee has appeared Off-Broadway in Personals, Vanities and Forbidden Broadway.

Her regional theatre appearances include the St. Louis Rep and The MUNY, Ford’s Theatre (D.C.), the 5th Avenue Theatre (Seattle), the Paper Mill Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, George Street Theatre (NJ), Pittsburgh CLO, TUTS (Houston), Hartford Rep, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the O’Neill Conference and the Goodspeed Opera House (CT), Bay Street Theatre (NY), the Prince Theatre and Walnut Street Theatre (Philadelphia).

Recently, Dee was seen in Stormy Weather: the Life of Lena Horne, at the Pasadena Playhouse playing opposite the great Leslie Uggams. Dee’s performance as Kay Thompson garnered a Barrymore Award (Philadelphia) in 2007.

Involved in many pre-Broadway workshop productions, some of her favorites of late include Saving Aimee, Dangerous Beauty, Elf: The Musical, Pure Country, and Lone Star Love.

Both “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” have welcomed Dee into their rosters. She has been seen as both a tough hearing judge and a ‘bad mommy!’ She has numerous other television and film appearances.

She can be heard on the original recordings of City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, and Footloose, on the 2CD set of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies from the Paper Mill Playhouse production (in which she starred as Phyllis). She is also featured on the video/DVD of My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies.

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