Taking audiences back to 1979, the Penn State Thespian Society brought Dolly Parton’s spirited music to the stage with a performance filled with fun, flirtation and feminism.
This semester marks the first time since the pandemic that the Penn State Thespian Society could perform a show with an ensemble and dance numbers in front of a live audience, and the group chose the musical “9 to 5” because of its dynamic scenario.
“‘9 to 5’ really spoke to me personally because I think it’s so much fun,” said producer Marley Bradner (senior biology). “It’s high energy. It has a great message – really empowering, especially for women, but I think for everyone.
The musical tells the story of three female colleagues who teach their sexist and bigoted boss a lesson. Intertwined between jokes and witty quips, the performance’s feminist theme shines through.
Thespian Society president Julie Byrne said she hopes audiences will be inspired by the characters in the show.
“I really hope they take the return of live theater…but also really take the message of ‘we are here’. We are proud. We are women,” said Byrne (upper secondary social education ).
Some members of the “9 to 5” cast and production team just got involved with Thespian Society this year for the musical. Director Emma Cagle joined the club in her senior year at Penn State and said she fell in love with the musical’s message and decided she should be a part of it.
According to Cagle (Senior English and Comparative Literature), “‘9 to 5’ is the perfect blend of comedy that means something.”
After experiencing the “incredible” environment created by the Thespian Society to organize the show, Cagle said she wanted to encourage other students to join the organization.
“There is so much hard work in the show. Beyond the cast, there are about 50 members of our production team who do all the lights, they mix all the music, all the props up there — everything,” Cagle said. “And I think there’s a place for everyone. And I didn’t even think there was a place for me here until I tried it, and I got it – and maybe I wish I was here longer.
Cailie Shanks played one of the main characters, Doralee, played by Dolly Parton, who also wrote all the music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical, in the 1980 film “9 to 5.”
Shanks (senior marketing) hadn’t set foot on stage in eight years before deciding to audition for “9 to 5.” Scrolling through Instagram in January, she came across the post calling for auditions, and looking for something to do with the rest of her senior year, Shanks decided to give it a shot.
” I did not know anyone. I was terrified. And then I got a callback – I screamed, I ran into my apartment. Since then it’s been more than I could have imagined,” Shanks said.
The Thespian Society’s ‘9 to 5’ musical brought justice-related entertainment to the Schwab Auditorium stage from March 24-26, and members of the organization said they loved enjoying it every second.
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