Dolly launches "Season of Showstoppers" at Dollywood, confirms "9 to 5" sequel in works

J. H. Osborne • Updated Mar 17, 2018 at 10:50 AM

PIGEON FORGE — Dolly Parton launched Dollywood’s 33rd season — being billed as the "Season of Showstoppers" to reflect an extreme emphasis on "more, bigger and better" live performances each day throughout the year — with a special preview Friday.

Near the end of her public comments, while taking questions from reporters, Parton confirmed she, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin are working on a sequel to their 1980 film "9 to 5."

Parton joked she'd wondered if it would be called "Ninety-five."

"After all these years, we're going to do a sequel to "9 to 5," Partons said. "Can you believe it? I always used to joke with Jane and Lily becauase they were always trying to do a sequel and they never did come up with anything I wanted to do. I always said 'let's not mess with something great' and 'I only chew my tobacco once,' and all that stuff. So I never would do it. They came to me recently, after all these years and they came up with ... that company we worked with in "9 to 5" there are new girls in there now. And Jane and Lily and I, our characters have gone off into the world and had our own businesses and become successful in or own right. So these young women look us up and get our take on things and ask our advice. Of, course, it will be comedy, too. Sure it will touch on things going on now. Hopefully in a fun way, but in a real way to that might make a difference."

Dollywood has invested $1 million more in its 2018 entertainment offerings than any other single year in the park's history. The park's 2018 season officially begins today, hitting the ground running with "Festival of Nations."

"This season we're going to be bringing you more and bigger and better shows and festivals," Parton said. "The year begins with our 'Festival of Nations,' which is starting today. Don't you just love that? I do."

"Festival of Nations" continues through April 9, offering a glimpse — and sometimes tastes — of cultures from around the globe. It includes traditional music, dance, food and crafts from a wide array of countries while also enjoying internationally-known performing groups. The National Dance Company of Siberia, The Flamenco Kings starring Los Vivancos, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo bring three unique, high-energy shows to Dollywood.

Founded in 1960, the National Dance Company of Siberia has wowed audiences around the globe with colorful and expressive dance, traditional folk music and vivid costumes. This renowned dance company brings their amazing performance to life for guests in a must-see display of talent and passion. High energy, dazzling colors and authentic Siberian customs combine for an astonishing visual masterpiece.

Los Vivancos is comprised of seven Spanish brothers who traveled the world before studying at the prestigious Barcelona Dance Conservatory. Drawing from their years of study, Los Vivancos have created an eclectic style that combines flamenco, ballet, martial arts, street dance, theater and acrobatics into one thrilling, non-stop performance that truly showcases their charisma and flair. The brothers have served as guest performers on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

Grammy award winners Ladysmith Black Mambazo have worked with with artists such as Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and even Dolly Parton herself. The group, which sings of peace, love and harmony, is in its sixth decade, and has produced more than 60 albums during its existence. They won their fifth Grammy in January, this time for Best World Music Album.

Dollywood’s 2018 Festival of Nations lineup also includes the following shows and acts:

• JigJam. A quartet from Ireland that blends traditional Irish music with the unique sound of American bluegrass to create a genre of music affectionately known as “Celtgrass.” The group has been humorously described as “the best Irish group so far in bluegrass.”

• Invaders Steel Orchestra. One of the world’s oldest and most respected steel drum bands, Invaders Steel Orchestra celebrates more than 75 years of creating festive music for audiences around the world.

• Atahualpa. From Ecuador, Atahualpa combines native Incan instruments with contemporary backups to celebrate the history and culture of the Andes Mountains. Atahualpa’s mix of songs includes contemporary music, South American dance rhythms, as well as the traditional music of the Andes.

• Zebra Stelzentheater. This act features German stilt dancers in original costumes who perform while roaming the streets of Dollywood. They are always looking for guest interaction, so be on the lookout for fun.

Next up after "Festival of Nations" in Dollywood's "Season of Showstoppes" lineup is the brand new "Spring Mix," which Parton said came about due to requests from park guests for more familiar, popular music like they might sing along to in the shower.

It's three weeks long (April 11-29) with award-winning artists from multiple music genres. The first week features classic country talent including Crystal Gayle, Suzy Bogguss, Shenandoah, Pam Tillis, T.G. Sheppard and Connie Smith. Inspirational artists such as Amy Grant, David Phelps, Carman, Selah, and The Blind Boys of Alabama perform during the series’ second week, while a number of classic artists take to the stage during the third week. Classic artists include The Marshall Tucker Band, The Drifters, Orleans, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Debby Boone. Different artists are scheduled to appear every day during the Spring Mix concert series. All concerts are included with park admission.

Three "Spring Mix" acts joined Parton onstage for the "Seasont of Showstoppers" preview Friday: Janie Fricke, Larnelle Harris, the group Orleans.

As Parton was about to introduce a segment, wearing a glimmering gold ensemble, she said "I love Dollywood, I love getting to dress up in all my fancy things."

"I love YOU, Dolly!" a man yelled from the audience.

"I told you to wait in the truck," Parton deadpanned back.

Parton said park staple "My People," featuring members of her family, has "been completely rewritten and redone and produced by my brother Randy, because I think he knows a lot of stuff about our family and about me that I really didn't want told but they're going to have a good show."

At another point, Parton called The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross onstage ("He does so much stuff I get credit for,” she said) and asked if he could explain grading work visible from inside the park.

Ross said an announcement will come this summer, but "We're really excited, we've been introducing lots of new attractions in the last five years. But what we're bringing to our guests in 2019 is by a far the very biggest investment we've made in the park for quite a long time and will appeal to families and adult couples."

Parton asked if it will tie in to the company's goal of making Dollywood a draw for the whole Southeast region of the country.

"We're going to give Disney a run for their money," Parton said.