Theater & Dance
Allie Townsend

Current show: "9 to 5: The Musical"
By: Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, book by Patricia Resnick
Produced by: Foothill Music Theatre
Directed by: Milissa Carey
Choreographed by: Claire Alexander
Music direction by: Dolores Duran-Cefalu
Featuring: Rachelle Abbey, Glenna Murillo, Allie Townsend, Aaron Hurley, Adam Cotugno, Angela Cesena, Jorge Diaz, Ginny Moore, Jenn Martinelli, Katie Mazon, Alea Selburn, Kayvon Kordestani, Kimberly Kay, Megan Brown, Greg Lynch, Todd Wright, Ryan Kain, Jordan Covington, Tim Ford, Seton Chiang, Daniel Cardenas, David Evans
When: March 1 through March 18, 2018
Where: Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Tickets: $12-$32; visit or call 650-949-7360

Hurley, Townsend
David Allen photo
Allie Townsend as Doralee Rhodes, right, gives Aaron Hurley as her manager Franklin Hart Jr. a piece of her mind in a pre-production publicity photo for Dolly Parton's "9 to 5 The Musical," presented by Foothill Music Theatre at the Lohman Theatre, Los Altos Hills, March 1 through March 18, 2018.
Townsend is working 9 to 5;
also, she's in that very musical
She has a serious career going with a tech giant,
but also is finding time to return to theater
February 22, 2018

The movie "9 to 5" certainly had its silly moments — Lily Tomlin dressed as Snow White, destroying the bad guy? — but it also had something to say about about respecting women, about feminism, about women teaming up to defeat sexism.

All that resonates today — 38 years later — as the Women's Marches and other events have brought renewed attention to the ongoing battle.

Just ask Allie Townsend, who is playing Doralee Rhodes — played by Dolly Parton in 1980, in her movie debut — in "9 to 5 The Musical" at Foothill Music Theatre, opening March 1.

"It's a wonderful piece," said Townsend in a recent phone interview. "I am stepping into a character based on an icon, but she's also a brilliant musician and a businesswoman who has built an empire from scratch.

"The inspiration comes from the spirit of who Dolly Parton is. She is someone who is often misjudged because of how she looks, which is the root of what Dorealee is, as well. Her coworkers presume she must be a certain type of person because of the way she looks."

Townsend noted that some review "criticized Dolly Parton because she wore tight clothing."

Vincent Canby in the New York Times: "Miss Parton is Doralee Rhodes, the boss's executive secretary who wears sweaters two sizes too small and pretends to be utterly surprised when men make passes at her."

Canby wasn't very kind to the film, saying, among other things, "Forget the energy crisis, inflation, recession, job shortages, the disappointing sales of the Chrysler 'K,' urban blight and the price of gold. There's no problem with capitalism that three liberated Nancy Drews can't solve if they don't have to keep running out to get coffee for their superiors."

But the film, and it's amusingly delivered ideas of feminism, resonated with audiences, who made it the second biggest box-office success of 1980, behind only "The Empire Strikes Back."

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Townsend is certainly a beautiful young woman, but she's also clearly very devoted to her day job career. It seems unlikely that she would ever put up with being treated as a mere sex object, as was Doralee.

Townsend graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a degree in journalism, then went to Time magazine, where she not only covered social media for the magazine, but helped develop its social media presence.

Then she took a job with a Silicon Valley tech giant, and spent a few years completely concentrating on developing her career before she started getting involved in local theater. She'd done theater in high school and liked it, but didn't pursue it in college nor in the first years of her career.

She came to the Bay Area nearly six years ago, she said, and returned to theater in 2016.

Allie Townsend
Scott R. Kline photo
Allie Townsend

"I always love theater, but needed to be very career-focused," she said. "I really had to invest in making this career … I buried myself in it for years."

Since returning to stage, she has done several shows in the area, including "Annie" at Woodside Community Theatre, and "Into the Woods" at Pacifica Spindrift Players. She's also been taking voice lessons from Pierce Peter Brandt, a noted Bay Area performer and vocal coach.

"It's been a lovely part of my life, it's felt very fulfilling, the last year or so. My career comes first, but I'm really happy to be doing this again."

Townsend admires Patricia Resnick, who wrote the original story for "9 to 5."

"She was 26 when she wrote it, this story of three incredible women … there is some farce and satire, but also a lot of real commentary.

"I love that you never understand what kind of business Consolidated is, because the issues the story tackles are so industry agnostic. These problems exist in every workplace. That's what makes it so relatable for so many people."

Townsend said she likes working with the production's director, Milissa Carey.

"I really love that we're putting on a show with roots in women's creativity. We've got this," Townsend said.

She cited the "team of amazing women," including Carey, and singling out especially Music Director Dolores Duran-Cefalu and Costume Designer Chiara Cola.

"The cast is very talented," Townsend said. "I feel very luck to work beside them. Aaron Hurley is hilarious but also really affecting as Mr. Hart (the sexist manager who causes a lot of trouble) and Angela Cesena will steal the show as Roz.

"Adam Cotugno plays Joe. He's essential eye candy in our show."

The show runs March 1 through March 18, 2018, at the Lohman Theatre on the Foothill College Campus in Los Altos Hills.

Email John Orr at

Allie Townsend
Pacifica Spindrift Players photo
Allie Townsend as Cinderella in "Into the Woods" at Pacifica Spindrift Players in 2017.
Allie Townsend
Ravi Masand photo
Allie Townsend in "Rock of Ages" at Stage 1 Theatre in Fremont, in 2017.