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Local stages come alive this October

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One of the quirks of the local cultural calendar is the fact that many of our area’s theatre companies open their fall shows in the month of October.

This year is no different, with five different groups – ranging from professional to community to academic – in the immediate vicinity bringing their latest projects to life on local stages.

And the choices are wide-ranging. For musicals, we’ve got a beloved classic at the beginning of the month and a cult favorite closing it out. There’s a Victorian melodrama that is very spooky and very timely. Plus, we’ve got not one, but two Neil Simon offerings.

Here’s a list of what’s coming, in chronological order. Any way you slice it, it’s a big month for local theatre. Go see something.

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The Music Man – The Grand (now playing; through Oct. 20)

This musical classic, with book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson, is already gracing the stage at The Grand in Ellsworth. It’s the tale of con man Harold Hill, who poses as the organizer of a boys’ band and convinces the innocent Midwestern townsfolk of River City, Iowa to buy uniforms and equipment based on the promise that he will train their band. Instead, he aims to take their money and skip town. But when a local music teacher sees through his façade, the jig is up – until Hill finds room in his heart to do something help someone else for a change and risks being caught to prove his worth. Directed by Leslie Michaud, the show runs through October 20.

The Sunshine Boys – Ten Bucks Theatre (Oct. 10-20)

The first of October’s two local Neil Simon offerings, this production comes courtesy of Ten Bucks Theatre Company and takes place at their space in the Bangor Mall. Al and Willie are two aging vaudeville comedians, a pair whose act was once considered the height of comedy. But a falling out has led to their not speaking for over a decade. When an opportunity arises to bring the act back for a television special, they grudgingly reunite. A young agent – grandson to one of the men – tries desperately to make it happen. But not only do they have to remember their classic bits, but they must remember their relationship with one another. Directed by Ben Layman, the show runs through October 20.

Gaslight – Penobscot Theatre Company (Oct. 17-Nov. 3)

This 1938 melodrama written by Patrick Hamilton is the fall offering from Penobscot Theatre Company. Set in 1880, it tells the story of the upper-class Manningham family. Bella has concerns about the behavior of her husband Jack – his frequent absences and refusal to explain them chief among them. Slowly but surely, it becomes clear that Jack is not what he seems, even as he does his best to convince Bella not to believe the evidence of her eyes and ears. This play has been translated to the screen numerous times; the term “gaslighting” is derived from its title. A spooky offering perfect for the spooky season – and a timely one at that. Directed by Bari Newport, the show runs through November 3.

Rumors – University of Maine School of Performing Arts (Oct. 18-27)

And here we get our second dose of Simon, courtesy of the University of Maine’s School of Performing Arts. This is a classic Simon farce, packed with all the slamming doors and mistaken identities you could want. A group of friends are assembling for the 10th anniversary party for Charlie and Myra Brock. Only things aren’t at all going as planned. See, it appears that Charlie has been shot in the ear lobe, Myra’s nowhere to be found and all the kitchen staff have disappeared. But while Ken and Chris try to keep things under wraps, the arrival of other guests quickly cause the whole situation to unravel – with hilarious consequences. Directed by Julie Lisnet, this show runs through October 27.

Evil Dead: The Musical – Some Theatre Company (Oct. 31-Nov. 9)

Last but not least, we have some Halloween fun courtesy of Some Theatre Company. This show, loosely based on Sam Raimi’s cult film series, features book and lyrics by George Reinblatt and music by Reinblatt, Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla and Melissa Morris; it all unfolds at the Keith Anderson Center in Orono. This rock musical tells the story of five friends spending the weekend at an abandoned cabin in the woods – a cabin where unknown horrors lurk. The group accidentally releases an ancient evil and is forced to battle for their very souls … all while singing and dancing the night away. This bloody, bouncy good time should make for a great Halloween treat. Directed by Elaine Bard, this show runs through November 9.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 October 2019 10:27

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