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Hitting the mainstages of Maine’s summer stages

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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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Penobscot Theatre Company

First up is Bangor’s own Penobscot Theatre Company. In recent years, Producing Artistic Director Bari Newport has been offering area theatergoers a special treat – a surprise summer show added to the PTC season.

This year is no different; the wacky and wildly popular comedy “Shear Madness” graces the Bangor Opera House stage this time around. It’s a slapstick murder mystery set in a hair salon where the audience decides the ending.

Written by Paul Portner and directed by former PTC Artistic Director Scott R.C. Levy, the show runs from June 14 through July 8.

(For tickets or more information about “Shear Madness,” visit PTC’s website at www.penobscottheatre.org, call the box office at 942-3333 or find them on Facebook.)

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Ten Bucks Theatre Company

One of our region’s most beloved theatrical traditions is the annual Shakespeare production from Ten Bucks Theatre company – and this year, there will be even more Bard than ever!

This summer’s production is “Macbeth,” that classic tale of ambition, murder and madness featuring a cursed Scottish king. The show is directed by Ten Bucks veteran Ben Layman.

Meanwhile, this show is going to be performed in multiple locales over the course of the summer. July 19-22 sees them at their usual home at Indian Trail Park in Brewer. There will be a single performance at the Newport Public Library on July 25, followed by performances at the Orono Public Library July 26-29. Finally, Ten Bucks will return to Fort Knox to close the run from Aug. 2-5.

(For more information about “Macbeth,” visit the TBTC website at www.tenbuckstheatre.org or find them on Facebook.)

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Some Theatre Company

While Orono-based Some Theatre Company is still a relative newcomer on the scene, there’s no question that they’ve proved more than willing to take on some pretty significant theatrical challenges – a trend that continues this summer.

First up is “Hand to God,” a dark and profane comedy that tackles big issues about faith, love and life … and that also features a foul-mouthed heathen of a puppet named Tyrone. Not for children or the faint of heart, this show – written by Robert Askins and directed by STC’s Elaine Bard, runs June 15-23 at the Keith Anderson Community House in Orono.

Additionally, STC is mounting a production of Marsha Norman’s poignant, powerful, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “’night Mother” – a two-hander featuring the twisted dynamic between a mother and daughter - for a single weekend at the end of the summer, running Aug. 24-26, also at the Keith Anderson Community House.

(For more information about either of these shows, you can visit the Some Theatre Company website at www.sometheatrecompany.com or find STC on Facebook.)

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True North Theatre

In terms of companies in the Greater Bangor region, Orono’s True North Theatre is the newest kid on the block. However, don’t mistake their novelty for inexperience – there are plenty of seasoned theater folks in the mix.

This summer’s True North offering is Alan Ayckbourn’s “Table Manners.” This door-slamming, table-tipping farce features a group thrown together into an inadvertent family weekend; everyone’s got their agendas, everyone’s got their secrets … and everybody’s got a glass.

Directed by Tricia A. Hobbs, this production runs June 15-23 at the Cyrus Memorial Pavilion Theatre on the University of Maine campus in Orono.

(If you’re looking for more information about “Table Manners,” visit the website of True North Theatre at www.truenorththeatre.org or find them on Facebook.)

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Midcoast Actors’ Studio

The folks at Midcoast Actors’ Studio have spent the past few years producing top-quality work, finding shows that are both challenging and accessible. This summer, that tradition continues.

Next up for the MAS folks is the classic musical “Cabaret.” This musical – with music by Joe Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and book by Joe Masteroff – is one of the most iconic pieces of 20th century musical theater. It’s a bold choice for a bold ensemble.

The show is running Aug. 3-12 at the Crosby Center in Belfast.

(For more information about Midcoast Actors’ Studio and their upcoming offerings, please visit their website at www.midcoastactors.org or find them on Facebook.)

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Cold Comfort Theater

Another Belfast crew, the folks at Cold Comfort Theater are putting forth a pair of quality offerings for their audience’s viewing pleasure this summer.

First up is “The Boys Next Door.” This comedy by Tom Griffin is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, the story of four developmentally challenged men striving to make their way in the world. Directed by Aynne Ames, the show runs from June 22 to July 1 at the Playhouse in Belfast.

Next is a production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” – an original musical adaptation of the classic with music by Colin Graebert and lyrics and staging by Ames. Directed by Joe Goscinski, this show runs July 20-29 in Belfast’s Wales Park.

(For more information about Cold Comfort Theater or either of these shows, feel free to visit their website at www.coldcomforttheater.com or find them on Facebook.)

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The Grand

The Grand in Ellsworth is one of the area’s venerable institutions, a cultural mainstay that has long been a vital part of the Hancock County community.

This summer, the Grand is offering up “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.”  This jukebox musical tells the tale of the rich and all-too-short life of the iconic country singer Patsy Cline. The show – starring Gina Schuh-Turner as the titular Cline, is scheduled to run June 21 through July 1 at the Grand.

(For more information about “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline” or other offerings at the Grand, please visit their website at www.grandonline.org or check them out on Facebook.)

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Acadia Repertory Theatre

Speaking of institutions, Acadia Repertory Theatre has been bringing live performances to Mount Desert Island audiences since 1973 – that means this is their 46th year, if you’re counting. In that span of time, hundreds of productions have hit the stage in their home theater, a converted Masonic Hall in Somesville that is as lovely a summer theater space as you’ll find.

The first ART offering of the summer is Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie,” adapted from his best-selling book of the same name. A successful journalist reunites with an old mentor, turning s simple visit into a recurring meditation on the nature of life and love; the show runs June 26 through July 8.

Next up is the George Bernard Shaw classic “Pygmalion,” the story of Professor Henry Higgins and his attempts to turn working-class Eliza Doolittle into a lady; it’s the play they added songs to in order to create “My Fair Lady.” This one runs July 10-22.

After that, it’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a Tony Award-winning comedy about sibling rivalry by acclaimed playwright Christopher Durang. This wonderfully weird show is set to run from July 24 through August 12.

Closing out the ART season is “Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” written by, well … Ken Ludwig. It’s the familiar Sherlock Holmes story twisted and shaped into a madcap and hilarious murder mystery; the production runs from August 14 through September 2.

(For more information about Acadia Repertory Theatre or any of its summer offerings, you can visit their website at www.acadiarep.com or find them on Facebook.)

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Opera House Arts

Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House has for years now served as a remarkable and rich venue for artistic creation in its programming. This summer sees them presenting two very different offerings.

The first is their production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” This outdoor production is being mounted at Ames Farm on Deer Isle; by all accounts, audiences can expect something engaging and nontraditional and full of surprises – all while staying true to the words of the Bard. Directed by Peter Richards, this one runs June 29 through July 15.

The other Opera House Arts offering – this one at the Stonington Opera House – is “I Have Seen Horizons: Ruth Moore’s Stories From Maine,” a new play based on the works of beloved Maine author Ruth Moore. The adaptation comes courtesy of Meg Taintor and Natalya Baldyga; Baldyaga also directs. The production is set to run Aug. 16-26.

(For more information regarding Opera House Arts, visit their website at www.operahousearts.org or find them on Facebook.)

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Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t make mention of a couple of outstanding theaters that are just a little bit farther afield, but certainly are well worth your time and attention.

Theatre at Monmouth

Getting to historic Cumston Hall from the Bangor area might take a while, but you’ll be rewarded with some top-notch theater by one of the finest theatrical organizations in New England. This will mark their 49th season; it’s another awesome slate of offerings courtesy of TAM. Find out more at www.theatreatmonmouth.org.

[email protected]” by Daniel Elihu Kramer; directed by Janis Stevens - (June 23 – Aug. 17)

“Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare; directed by Kristin Clippard - (July 5 – Aug. 19)

“Richard III” by William Shakespeare; directed by Dawn McAndrews - (July 12 – Aug. 18)

“Enchanted April” by Matthew Barber; directed by Kate Bergstrom - (July 19 – Aug. 16)

“Dial “M” for Murder” by Frederick Knott; directed by Sally Wood - (July 26 – Aug. 27)

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Maine State Music Theatre

This Brunswick group is an institution, bringing high-quality musical theater to audiences since 1959. For 60 years, they’ve been doing their thing – expect more excellence in their 2018 summer season. Check them out at www.msmt.org.

“Million Dollar Quartet” – book by Collin Escott and Floyd Murtux, inspired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins – (June 6-23)

“Beauty and the Beast” – music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton – (June 27 – July 14)

“Saturday Night Fever” – Adapted for the stage by Robert Stigwood in collaboration with Bill Oaks; North American version written by Sean Cercone & David Abbinanti; songs by the Bee Gees – (July 18 – Aug. 4)

“Singin’ in the Rain” - Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed – (Aug. 8-25)

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 June 2018 14:16

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