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The mainstage of Maine's summer stage

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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 Brunswick, from Monmouth to MDI (and many places in-between), the summer shows go on.

Here's a look at a few summer theatrical offerings.

Penobscot Theatre Company

Penobscot Theatre Company is bringing rock and roll to the Bangor Opera House stage this summer with the Maine premiere of a musical that will elicit memories of big sound and big hair.

Artistic Director Bari Newport is bringing the smash hit musical 'Rock of Ages' to Bangor audiences. The show is running from June 9 through July 2 and features some of the most beloved songs from the greatest hair bands of the 1980s.

Featuring some of the best and brightest talent that the area has to offer local favorites like Dominick Varney, Ira Kramer, Brianne Beck and the returning Christie Robinson as well as a few players from elsewhere, 'Rock of Ages' will breathe new life into some of your favorite rock songs.

Check it out, because PTC is going to hit you with their best shot.

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

Ten Bucks Theatre Company

One of the best summertime theatre traditions of the last decade-plus has been the annual Shakespeare Under The Stars offering from Ten Bucks Theatre Company. After switching things up with last year's production of 'Dracula,' TBTC is returning to Brewer's Indian Trail Park to present one of the great works of the Bard.

This year, Julie Arnold Lisnet will be directing a production of 'The Comedy of Errors.' As the title indicates, this is one of Shakespeare's comedies, a hilarious story that follows two sets of twins that were accidentally separated at birth. When one set winds up arriving in the home city of the other, wellsuffice it to say that hijinks will ensue.

Expect a lot of big laughs from central Maine's preeminent source of outdoor Shakespeare; the Ten Bucks crew will once again bring the Bard to life.

'The Comedy of Errors' opens on July 21 and runs through July 31 at Indian Trail Park before heading to Fort Knox for a weekend engagement from August 4-7.

(For more information about Ten Bucks Theatre Company, visit their website at www.tenbuckstheatre.org or find them 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 first of their four summer offerings is 'Bakersfield Mist,' running from June 28 through July 10. An unemployed bartender named Maude has purchased a painting from a thrift store. She becomes convinced that it's a lost Jackson Pollock. But when a renowned art expert makes his way to Maude's Bakersfield trailer, he has no idea what he's in for.

Next up is 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher which runs from July 12 through July 24. It's an innovative adaptation of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale, an eerie and engaging retelling of the sad and tragic story of Dr. Henry Jekyll and the consequences of his efforts to plumb the depths of human potential.

After that is 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged.' The most famous creation of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, this piece by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield delivers precisely what it promises. It's a hilarious romp through the entirety of the Shakespearean canon all with tongues planted firmly in cheeks. Runs from July 26 through August 14.

Finally, ART closes out the season with Peter Gordon's 'Murdered to Death.' Running from August 16 through September 4, this show is a delightful spoof of the classic Christie mystery. A bumbling inspector is tasked with solving the murder of the owner of a country house. Of course, there's more murder to come. This race against time promises plenty of laughs.

(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 is 'Virginia Woolf's Orlando,' adapted for the stage by Sarah Ruhl. It's the story of an Elizabethan man whose love of Queen and country not to mention a Russian princess is thrown for a loop when he wakes up one Constantinople morning to discover that things have changed. He's a woman now, you see. Running from June 23 through July 10.

Next up is 'An Iliad,' by Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare. It's a retelling of Homer's epic tale of war, violence and the fabled siege of Troy. A dark (and darkly funny) recounting of the tale, it's a new and interesting look at one of literature's greatest sagas. See it from July 14 through July 23.

'Julius Caesar' running from July 29 through August 7 follows. Shakespeare's classic tale of political intrigue offers a look at the corrupting power of politics. Jealousy and ambition come together as one of the most famous conspiracies in history is brought to vivid, visceral life.

Finally, the Opera House Arts production of 'Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play' hits the stage. The play, written by Anne Washburn, offers a weird and compelling look at a possible end of the world. When civilization collapses, an odd collection of survivors staves off fear by recounting the heroic tale of Bart Simpson's ongoing battle against Sideshow Bob. Yes, really. Running from August 25 through September 4, this might be the summer offering that I personally am most eagerly anticipating.

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

Camden Shakespeare Festival

If you're looking for some summer Shakespeare on the midcoast, the folks at the Camden Shakespeare Festival have something for you. With two shows in two different locations, CSF will bring the Bard to you.

At the Camden Amphitheater, you'll find 'The Tempest.' This most mystical of Shakespeare's plays offers a look at the aftermath of a shipwreck on a mysterious island an island that features wizards, sprites and the monstrous Caliban.

At High Mountain Hall is 'The Comedy of Errors' check the aforementioned Ten Bucks Theatre Company listing in case you've forgotten the show's description.

'The Tempest' opens on July 26, while 'The Comedy of Errors' opens on July 29. The two shows run in rotating repertory through August 14 all told, there will be nine performances of 'The Tempest' and six of 'The Comedy of Errors.'

(For more information, visit their website at www.camdenshakespeare.org or find them on Facebook.)

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There's far more, of course. Have a look at these other summer seasons.

Theater at Monmouth

'Cyrano' by Edmond Rostand and adapted by Jo Roets (June 25 Aug. 19)

'Love's Labor's Lost' by William Shakespeare (July 7 Aug. 20)

'The Barber of Seville' by Pierre Beuamarchais (July 14 Aug. 21)

'Henry V' by William Shakespeare (July 21 Aug. 20)

'The Illusion' by Pierre Corneille and adapted by Tony Kushner (July 28 Aug. 19)

Lakewood Theater

'Money Matters' by Michael Parker and Susan Parker (May 26 June 4)

'Last Round-Up of the Guacamole Queens' by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten (June 9-18)

'Always, Patsy Cline' by Ted Swindley (June 23 July 2)

'Cheshire Cats' by Gail Young (July 7-16)

'Young Frankenstein' by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (July 21-30)

'Death by Design' by Rob Urbinati (Aug. 4-13)

'Hello Dolly!' by Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart (Aug. 18-27)

'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck (Sept. 1-10)

'Confessions of a Dirty Blonde' by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore (Sept. 15-24)

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All that, plus so much more. You could go to Madison for the extensive and excellent Lakewood Theater summer season or head down to Brunswick for the celebratory sounds of Maine State Music Theatre. Plus, there are any number of productions by and/or for children scattered all over.

Long story short, there is a LOT of live theatre to enjoy this summer. So get out there and see something.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 13:05

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