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The mainstages of Maine’s summer stages

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The mainstages of Maine’s summer stages (Photo courtesy of Ten Bucks Theatre Company/Julie Lisnet)

Some of central and coastal Maine's summer theater offerings

We're perched on the precipice of summer here in the state of Maine. And summer means all sorts of wonderfully warm activities. It's a chance to spend time outside, embracing the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds us.

We can go for hikes through the woods or up into the mountains. We can swim in the lakes, rivers and streams - even the ocean if we so choose. We can go to the beach or up to camp or wherever we like. It's an opportunity for us to fully reconnect with the out-of-doors.

But that's not all there is for summer fun.

For lovers of live theater, the summer presents an embarrassment of riches. There are opportunities both near and far to experience all manner of exciting shows. There are companies working all over the region to bring exciting, high-quality productions to the stage. No matter where you might be, odds are that there's something great coming to a theater near you.

Some of these places have been around for quite some time, while others are relatively recent additions to the scene. Some are a bit farther afield while others are practically next door. Regardless, there's something this summer for every theatergoer; from Bucksport to Belfast, from Monmouth to MDI (and many places in-between), the summer shows go on.

Here's a look at a few of the summer’s theatrical offerings.

Penobscot Theatre Company

First on the docket is Penobscot Theatre Company. For the past few years, Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport has been giving theatregoers a surprise treat – a summer show to compliment the rest of the theater’s season.

This year is no different, with their production of the musical “The Full Monty,” based on the movie of the same name with book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Six unemployed steelworkers decide to turn their lives around – by taking their clothes off. More summer fun from PTC.

(Editor’s note: The writer of this story is involved with the production.)

Directed and choreographed by Ethan Paulini, “The Full Monty” runs from June 15 – July 9 at the Bangor Opera House.

(For more information, visit the Penobscot Theatre website at www.penobscottheatre.org, call the box office at 942-3333 or find them on Facebook.)

Ten Bucks Theatre Company

One of the region’s most beloved traditions is the annual outdoor Shakespeare production mounted by the folks at Ten Bucks Theatre Company. Shakespeare Under the Stars is a beloved thread in the area’s theatrical scene, with well over a decade of bringing the Bard to life.

This year’s production is “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” one of Shakespeare’s comedies. While it may not be quite as familiar as some of the playwright’s works, it does prominently feature the character of Falstaff, deemed by noted Shakespearean scholar Harold Bloom as the very greatest of the Bard’s myriad creations.

Julie Arnold Lisnet will direct this uproarious comedy, running for three weeks this summer. The show will run July 20-23 and 27-30 at Indian Trail Park in Brewer and Aug. 3-6 at Fort Knox in Prospect. Expect loads of laughs from central Maine’s preeminent purveyor of the Bard.

(For more information about Ten Bucks Theatre Company, visit their website at www.tenbuckstheatre.org or find them on Facebook.)

Some Theatre Company

There’s a newcomer to the greater Bangor area’s outdoor Shakespeare game this summer, and hey – you can never have too much! Orono-based Some Theatre Company is bringing the Bard to the Village Green in Orono for two weeks in August.

Their debut production is the beloved classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the story of mischievous fairies, young lovers, a motley band of rude artisans and the magic (both literal and figurative) of romance. Directed by Logan Bard, this work looks to be the first of many as STC starts a Shakespearean tradition of its own.

Some Theatre Company’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is running Aug. 10-13 and 17-20 at Orono’s Village Green.

(For more information about Some Theatre Company, you can visit their website at www.sometheatrecompany.com or check out their Facebook page.)

True North Theatre

A new theatre company will be taking its inaugural bow in Orono this summer.

True North Theatre is mounting its debut production with Steven Dietz’s “Becky’s New Car.” Directed by Angela Bonacasa. This comedy about one woman’s quest for deeper meaning in her life – and the mistakes she makes along the way – marks the first show for the fledgling Orono group.

Performances of “Becky’s New Car” will take place at the Cyrus Memorial Pavilion Theater on the campus of the University of Maine. Show dates are July 21-23 and July 28-30. Head on out and support this new theatrical endeavor.

(For more information about True North Theatre, visit their website at www.truenorththeatre.org or pay them a visit on Facebook.)

Acadia Repertory Theatre

Since 1973, Acadia Repertory Theatre has been bringing live theater to Mount Desert Island. They have mounted well over 300 productions over the years, bringing a wide variety of comedies, dramas, thrillers and family fare to the stage. ART's stage can be found in Somesville, located in the Masonic Hall. Every summer, the hall becomes an intimate 148-seat performance space.

There are plenty of reasons to take a summertime trip to MDI; Acadia Rep is one of the best. For over 40 years, they've been bringing high-quality theater to the region a journey to ART is a journey no lover of the arts will regret.

The season starts with “The Gin Game” by D. L. Coburn, a classic two-hander (and Pulitzer Prize winner) in which a pair of nursing home residents do battle in card games that turn out to be about much more than the hands being played. The show runs from June 27 to July 9.

Next up is Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians,” a new play about a pastor whose admission that he no longer believes in Hell results in some surprising reactions from the congregation at his very successful megachurch. This one will be running from July 11-23.

ART offers up another classic with William Inge’s “Bus Stop,” running from July 25 to Aug. 13. This 1955 work about bus passengers stranded by a snowstorm is considered by many to be one of the finest works of dramatic literature produced in the 20th century.

Finally, it just wouldn’t be summer theater season without someone giving us a good old-fashioned mystery. Acadia Rep comes through, closing their season with “Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee,” a work featuring the mistress of mystery’s beloved creation detective Hercule Poirot. The show runs from Aug. 15 to Sept. 3.

(For more information, visit the Acadia Repertory Theatre website at www.acadiarep.com or find them on Facebook.)

Stonington Opera House

Opera House Arts, the organization operating in tandem with the Stonington Opera House, has long had a reputation for producing outstanding work. They're known for mounting challenging, exciting productions this year is no different.

The first show of the Opera House Arts season is “The Glass Menagerie,” the classic drama from Tennessee Williams. This story of the Wingfields, a Depression-era family in St. Louis, is one of the most beloved works in American drama. This production – featuring original music – comes courtesy of the Light Fantastic Theater Company and runs June 29 to July 9 at the Burnt Cove Church Community Center.

The next offering from Opera House Arts is “The Fantasticks,” by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. This story of young lovers separated by familial feuding is the longest-running musical in history. The classic tale combines with classic songs and will likely ensure a magical time at the Stonington Opera House. The show runs July 20-30.

Closing things out for the OHA season is another Shakespearean offering and an altogether unique one in “Henry IV.” Producing Artistic Director Meg Taintor has written a condensation of “Henry IV, Part I” and “Henry IV, Part II,” bringing these two masterworks together into a single, three-act piece. It’s the story of Henry IV unlike you’ve ever seen it before, running Aug. 17-27 at the Stonington Opera House.

(For more information, visit www.operahousearts.org or find them on Facebook.)

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This is far from all of it – as usual, the Maine summer is abundant with theatrical endeavors.

Dover-Foxcroft’s Center Theatre is doing their usual good stuff with a production of “Nunsense” by Dan Goggins; it runs Aug. 11-20 – find out more at www.centertheatre.org. The Camden Shakespeare Festival is giving us even more Shakespeare with their production of “Romeo and Juliet.” The Belfast Maskers are offering a production of the musical classic “Annie” that’s running from July 27 through Aug. 6.

Also, the always-interesting Midcoast Actors Studio has a show up right now, a production of Nick Payne’s “Constellations” that’s on the Troy Howard Stage in Belfast until June 11 – check out www.midcoastactors.org for more info.

And here are a few more seasons that are well worth checking out.

Theater at Monmouth

It might be a little farther afield for those in the greater Bangor area, but an evening at TAM is well worth the trip if you love great summer theater performed in a great space. These folks are one of our state’s annual artistic highlight; check out their 48th season. For more information, go to www.theateratmonmouth.org.

“Three Days of Rain,” by Richard Greenberg – July 1 – Aug. 18

“The Learned Ladies,” by Moliere – July 6 – Aug. 20

“Macbeth,” by William Shakespeare – July 13 – Aug. 18

“Othello,” by William Shakespeare – July 20 – Aug. 19

“Red Velvet,” by Lolita Chakrabarti – July 27 – Aug. 17

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Lakewood Theater

One of Maine’s most underrated gems, Lakewood has already kicked off their 117th season out in Madison. There’s theatrical history to be felt here like nowhere else in our state. They’ve got a typically full slate in 2017 – in fact, they’ve already opened, run and closed their first show of the season – “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Still, there’s plenty more where that came from. Find out more at www.lakewoodtheater.org.

“Some Sweet Day,” by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus – June 8-17

“Shout! The Mod Musical,” by Philip George and David Lowenstein – June 22 – July 1

“Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner,” by Pat Cook – July 6-15

“Avenue Q,” book by Jeff Whitty and music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx – July 20-29

“The Savannah Sipping Society,” by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten – Aug. 3-12

“Bullets Over Broadway: The Musical,” book by Woody Allen and music and lyrics by Glen Kelly – Aug. 17-26

“Baskerville,” by Ken Ludwig – Aug. 31 – Sept. 9.

“Lend Me a Tenor,” by Ken Ludwig – Sept. 14-23

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Maine State Music Theater

This Brunswick group is an institution, bringing high-quality musical theater to audiences since 1959. For nearly 60 years, they’ve been doing their thing – expect more excellence in their 2017 summer season. Check them out at www.msmt.org.

“Always … Patsy Cline,” by Ted Swindley – June 7-24

“Guys and Dolls,” book by Abe Burrows and Jo Sperling and music and lyrics by Frank Loesser – June 28 – July 15

“Grease,” book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey – July 19 – Aug. 5

“Disney’s Newsies,” book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman – Aug. 9-26.

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And that’s not even taking into account the wealth of theater camps and youth productions that are a huge part of the creative lives of our various communities. All through this summer, boards will be trodden and songs will be sung. Dances will be danced and bows will be bowed.

All of Maine’s a stage.

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 June 2017 10:20

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