SEQUIM – It’s good when Dolly Parton compliments you on your moves.
Carol Swarbrick Dries, actress, singer and resident of Sequim, had this special pleasure after performing in “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square”. The musical film premieres today on Netflix, with Swarbrick Dries as a cast member.
While filming in Atlanta, Parton “pointed out a little thing that I do in the opening act,” Swarbrick Dries recalls.
“I love that little shimmy you do; I never learned to shimmy, ”the superstar told her fellow performer.
Parton, 74, and Swarbrick Dries, 72, first met at a ‘Christmas in the Square’ reading table, which also stars Christine Baranski, Jenifer Lewis and Treat Williams.
“She was as sweet as in any interview,” Swarbrick Dries said of Parton, who has been giving a lot lately.
Besides the new Netflix movie, she just released her memoir “Songteller”, released her album “Holly Dolly Christmas” and, earlier this year, announced a million dollar donation to Vanderbilt University for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
Parton’s “Christmas in the Square” – for which she wrote all 14 musical numbers – was filmed in the summer of 2019, with Debbie Allen of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Fame” at the helm as choreographer, director and producer executive.
In this fall, the decision was made to hold it for the 2020 holiday season. No one knew, of course, that Netflix and other streaming platforms would become virtually the sole format for movies and musicals like this one.
The “On the Square” message is correct, says Swarbrick Dries. The story is a version of “A Christmas Carol” with the Scrooge as Mrs. Regina Fuller (Baranski).
She plans to evict residents of a neighborhood in a small town in order to sell them to a shopping center developer. Swarbrick Dries portrays Granny Hoover, who works in the town’s general store. Parton, as a glamorous angel, appears and helps Regina see life in a new light.
“The story is very skillfully dressed by Maria Schlatter, who wrote the screenplay,” added Swarbrick Dries. The setting looked a lot like Main Street in Disneyland – “absolutely complete,” she said – with the townspeople and actors all interconnected.
“It’s in this intimate city, a bit like where we live. Maybe that’s why it resonated so much, ”said Swarbrick Dries, who moved to Sequim 17 years ago.
The performer may appear in another movie someday on Netflix or elsewhere. The film version of her solo show featuring Miss Lillian Carter, mother of President Jimmy Carter, has been completed and the production team is looking for a distributor.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, Senior Reporter for Jefferson County, can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]
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