“Honky Tonk Angels,” the first offering in the Penobscot Theatre Company’s 41st season, combines the best of the Grand Ole Opry and the worst of “Hee Haw” in a fine production that would have been better served with less cornpone dialogue and more classic country music.

Wednesday night’s sold-out audience at the Bangor Opera House seemed to love both aspects of the show. Many theatergoers sang along with stars Laura Hodos, Brianne Beck and Heather Astbury Libby, even when audience participation wasn’t requested. A chorus joined the singers on the some of the classics, including “I’ll Fly Away,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Almost Persuaded” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

Playwright Ted Swindley’s thin plot tells the story of three women who set off individually for Nashville to pursue their dreams of becoming the next Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette. They meet by chance or, maybe, divine intervention on a bus, sing together and become the trio, the Honky Tonk Angels. Miraculously, they land a gig at a local bar almost the moment their feet hit the pavement in Music City.

Personally, I will never forgive Swindley for “solving” the last mystery of my childhood by telling me exactly what Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge in a contrived plot device.

Swindley also wrote “… Always, Patsy Cline,” which kicked off PTC’s 39th season with Hudo in the lead. That show was a financial success for the company.

The production is saved from the mediocrity of the script by the excellent band made up of Maine-based musicians and the fine singing ability of the actresses.

Music director Phil Burns, who plays keyboards, rarely lets the band over power the singers, which has been a problem in past productions at the Opera House. He is joined by Wells Gordon on bass, Ira Kramer on guitar and Tom Libby on drums. The real country sound, however, is provided by Dave O’Brien on pedal steel guitar and Max Silverstein on fiddle.

Director Michelle Colvin showcases the best of Hudos, Beck and Astbury Libby’s talents while managing to hide all their weaknesses. One of the few highlights of this show is when they sing together. Their voices mingle, merge, then, intertwine in harmonies that envelope the audience and offer the comfort of a favorite, well-worn sweater.

While there are some cross-over hits that topped the pop as well as the country charts — “Ode to Billy Joe,” “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and “Delta Dawn” — it’s the classic country songs that bring out the best in each performer. Astbury Libby is equally effective at crooning “Stand by Your Man” and belting out “Harper Valley PTA.” Hudos shines as the vamp singing “9 to 5” and “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial.”

Beck, who stepped into the production about two weeks before it opened Sept. 6, deserves kudos for making that change look seamless. Her interpretations of “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Ode to Billy Joe” captured the pain of loss that is the essence of a particular canon of country songs.

Tricia Hobbs’ multi-level set, along with a lighting design by Jess Fialko and costumes by Kevin Koski, gives the show a Southern gothic look and feel worthy of a William Faulkner novel and far more class than Swindley’s script deserves.

Honky Tonk Angels” runs through Sept. 21, with shows daily, except on Mondays and Tuesdays. For tickets, visit the Opera House box office, penobscottheatre.org or call 942-3333.

As a special offering, Laura Hodos will perform in a solo cabaret at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at the Opera House, singing the hits of musical theatre legends Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand. All tickets are $10.