Opera Theatre

Penobscot Theatre hopes long-delayed ‘9 to 5’ musical ends a ‘really tough few years’

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Three years ago, when Penobscot Theatre Company announced that the musical version of beloved movie “9 to 5” would be its summer show for 2020, the idea was simply that people would enjoy a fun romp featuring Dolly Parton’s iconic songs.

Now, as the production finally premieres on the Bangor Opera House stage this week after three truncated pandemic seasons, Parton and writer Patricia Resnick’s tale of gender inequality and workplace revenge has taken on a far deeper resonance. In the midst of the ongoing Great Resignation, in which workers nationwide have quit to search for better-paying, more equitable jobs, “9 to 5” has become much more than just a musical.

“The movie came out in a time when women were really pushing against disparities in the workplace, and now we are again at a time in history where workers are saying, ‘No, we deserve to be treated fairly,’” said Jen Shepard, Penobscot Theatre’s executive director. “There’s a deeper theme about work-life balance and humanity and fairness there that we never could have predicted would resonate this way.”

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