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ORONO – Family gatherings can be a real pain, but they can also lead to some unexpected fun – just so long as you mind your manners.

Orono-based theater company True North Theatre is giving you a chance to join in one such family gathering. Their production of Alan Ayckbourn’s beloved comedy “Table Manners” is taking place at the Cyrus Pavilion Theatre on the University of Maine campus. Directed by Tricia A. Hobbs, the show runs through June 24.

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ORONO - If I were to tell you about seeing a possessed puppet and the disaffected teenager attached to it take over a small-town Texas church basement, you might think I was describing some sort of fever dream.

In fact, I’d be talking about “Hand to God,” the latest production mounted by Orono’s Some Theatre Company. The Tony-nominated play – written by Robert Askins – is directed by Elaine Bard; the show runs through June 23 at the Keith Anderson Community House in Orono.

It’s a dark and provocative comedy, packed with blue language and blasphemy; the piece offers up challenge after unapologetic challenge, daring to cross any line you might think of. It is profane and wicked and thoughtful – as smart as it is discomfiting.

And it is REALLY funny.

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BANGOR – Local theatergoers are being asked to pitch in and solve a hilarious whodunit.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s latest production is “Shear Madness,” adapted by Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan from Paul Portner’s “Scherenschnitt.” It’s a freewheeling comic mystery – one that makes great demands of both its cast and its audience – and it’s running at the Bangor Opera House through July 8.

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BANGOR – A former Penobscot Theatre Company stalwart has returned to Bangor to bring a long-beloved theatrical experience to life on the Bangor Opera House stage.

Former PTC artistic director Scott R.C. Levy has made his way back to the Queen City to direct a production of “Shear Madness,” adapted from a 1963 German murder mystery by Paul Portner by Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan. The madcap and improvisational comedy is one of the longest running nonmusical plays in the world, having been running nonstop in Boston since January of 1980. The PTC production is scheduled to run from June 14 through July 8.

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Once again, summer’s arrival is upon us. The weather is warming up and the days are approaching their greatest length. People near and far are going to descend on our state’s beaches, mountains and forests; people are going to swim and hike and boat and generally experience the outdoors in a fashion that one can only achieve in Maine.

But there are other summertime perks, too.

For those who love live theater, there are loads of options. Companies near and far are bringing exciting work to stages all over the region; no matter where you might be, there’s a good chance that you’ve got some excellent theater happening nearby.

Some of these companies are stalwarts of the scene, having been around for decades. Others are relative newcomers, bringing a new energy to the proceedings. Bangor, Belfast, Bar Harbor – they’ve all got something for you; Orono and Ellsworth and Stonington too.

It’s well worth your time to experience some of what our area’s summer stages have to offer. Here’s a look at just some of what’s to come.

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ELLSWORTH – Two nights of something a little different will be hitting the stage in Ellsworth this weekend.

The Grand in Ellsworth is presenting an evening of short plays they’re calling “On the Fringe” on May 18 and 19. The bill features two plays – “House of Yes,” written by Wendy MacLeod and directed by Angela Bonacasa, and “Cold Summer,” written and directed by Georgia Williamina Zildjian; the show starts at 7 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $15 and available at the box office or via grandonline.org.

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BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre Company has cooked up another crowd pleaser.

PTC’s “The Spitfire Grill” – with music and book by James Valcq and lyrics and book by Fred Alley – is currently running at the Bangor Opera House. Based on the 1996 Lee David Zlotoff film of the same name, the production – directed by Dominick Varney with musical direction by William Shuler – runs through May 13.

It’s the story of a young woman adrift in life who seeks a place to call home. Having almost randomly selected a small town in Wisconsin as her destination, she arrives to discover a slowly dying place populated largely by closed minds. But as time passes, she finds friendships unlike any she’s ever had before – friendships that may ultimately be threatened by looming shadows of the past.

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BANGOR – The title intrigues you first: from an aphorism attributed to Einstein, concluding “beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own.” It is a familiar sentiment skewed sideways; a refraction, a sliver of broken mirror. A pretty rhyme for a vaguely malignant reminder, and your first indication that you are intended to witness cruelty entwined with kindness, pain with beauty.

“Ugly Lies the Bone” is still making a name for playwright Lindsey Ferrentino: appearing Off-Broadway, garnering a New York Times Critics’ Pick and eventually playing at the National Theatre of London. Its Maine premiere at Penobscot Theatre Company further emphasizes that this specific story of a single family in Titusville, Florida is universally relevant.

But “specific” should not be confused with “small.” How can one play encompass so many variations on what it means to heal? Its scope and complexity make significant demands of its artistic team and audience alike.

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017 13:09

'Beauty and the Beast' more than skin deep

BANGOR – Penobscot Theatre Company is inviting audiences to be their guests this holiday season as they bring to life a beloved musical version of a classic tale.

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Clothes make the woman in Winterport Open Stage production

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