THE last time Jackie Clune appeared on the Grand Opera House stage in York, she was the warm-up for Puppetry Of The Penis.

That might sound rude, but in reality she was Jackie in stand-up mode before the very flexible main act.

On Monday, she returns there to play senior office supervisor, feisty widow and mother-of-four Violet Newstead in Dolly Parton’s Broadway show 9 To 5: The Musical, a role that emphasises her diversity.

“I got the call from my agent, asking if I fancied 9 To 5, when I was doing Mogadishu, which was a very brilliant, brutal, issue-based, fast-paced contemporary play – a very serious play, but funny as well,” says Jackie.

She toured last year in former teacher Vivienne Franzmann’s debut play about a white teacher who tries to protect her black student from expulsion, playing the lead part of troubled teacher Amanda in this controversial study of bullying and racism issues for teachers. The play went on to be nominated for an Olivier Award.

From that tough, straight theatre role, Jackie was pitched into the glitzy world of musical theatre in 9 To 5 and she jumped at the chance to join Amy Lennox, Natalie Casey and Bonnie Langford for the British tour’s launch at Manchester Opera House last October.

“It’s a musical caper and the camp factor is high – well, you can’t really do a musical with Dolly Parton songs and not be camp,” says Jackie. “And being a fan of Lily Tomlin [who played Violet in the 1980 film, Nine To Five], I could bring that to the table too.”

Describing Violet’s character, Jackie says: “She’s a very strong, independent career women, a mum of teens and a widow, but being set in the 1970s, it’s a man’s world where she’s frustrated that she’ll never get promoted. She handles it by being laconic – and she does win out in the end.”

The setting takes Jackie down memory lane. “There’s a big production number where we put wigs on and there’s loads of craziness going on, and I have a wig that looks exactly like the hair I had in the 1970s – a pageboy haircut,” she says.

Jackie loves the tongue-in-cheek tone of Dolly’s musical. “The whole thing is all slightly in inverted commas with a few knowing looks at the audience – and as a stand-up comedian I like that,” she says.

Jackie has form in musical theatre, having played the female lead, Donna, in Mamma Mia! and dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot The Musical.

“In Mamma Mia!, the ABBA songs are the star; in Billy Elliot, it’s the story and the choreography. In 9 To 5, it’s a laugh, but it’s also political with all these women’s issues, which are still relevant, especially the problem of how hard the work/life balance is for women,” she says.

Jackie has to address that issue too, as a mother-of-four, including triplets. How does she cope? “Well, I go on tour,” she jokes. “They stay with my husband [actor and stunt performer Richard Hannant] and he looks after them.”

How does Richard cope? “He drinks quite a lot,” she says, the naughty comedian in Jackie popping up again.

• 9 To 5: The Musical runs at Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or online at