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Dolly Parton surprises audiences at Boston Common tree lighting, ‘Smoky Mountain’ musical

Cast members of "Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol" react as the music legend takes the stage to the surprise of the crowd during the 78th annual tree lighting event on Boston Common.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Dolly Parton stunned audiences across Boston Thursday night with her surprise appearances at the city’s tree-lighting ceremony and at the opening-night performance of her new musical at the Emerson Colonial Theatre.

The legendary singer, songwriter, and actress was greeted by a roar of cheers from the thousands gathered in the Boston Common to watch the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

“Hello Boston, Merry Christmas everybody. I am very, very proud to be in Boston ... and just being here on this cold night. At least it’s not snowing,” Parton said. “I will see you later, and Happy Holidays to ya.”


Parton introduced the cast who performed a song from her new musical, “Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol.”

The eight-time Grammy-award winner then made her way across the Common for the premiere of the musical at the Emerson Colonial. She emerged onstage in a Santa-suit dress as the crowd gasped and erupted into cheers.

“This has been a dream in the making for a few years,” Parton said of the new production. “I’m going to actually get to sit and watch the show for the first time with you tonight. So I’ll be sitting down there, so don’t you bother me because I’m going to watch the show.”

Parton, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999, wrote the songs for the show, which is an American take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Her appearance at the theater was not the last surprise of the night. State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester also took the Colonial stage to let Parton know that Dec. 5, 2019, was a special day for her in Massachusetts.

“For her magic, for her presence, and for her providing jobs to all of these people across our Commonwealth, let me read you this proclamation: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor concur. Be it hereby known to all that we in the Commonwealth offer our sincerest congratulations to Dolly Parton, in recognition of tonight being ‘Dolly Parton Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol’ Day,” Ferrante said.


Parton smiled as Ferrante handed her the paper with the proclamation.

“That’s so sweet,” Parton said.

Hundreds of cellphone cameras were then raised in the air as Parton walked through the packed crowd to her seat in the middle of the floor section.

“We have a seat right here,” one woman joked.

Alyssa Lukpat can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaLukpat.