What the drama gods are offering this year

The summer trinity
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  June 7, 2013


THE DEMON BARBER OF BOW STREET? Sweeney Todd comes to Seacoast Rep.  

As it heats up around here, theatergoers can look for a sure trinity of major summer offerings — the much-anticipated second PortFringe festival, a slew of Shakespeare shows, and a mess of musicals — as well as some interesting misfits and other sundry fare.

First of all, PF-13 will include 47 shows between June 26 and 30, with performances at Geno’s, SPACE Gallery, Portland Stage Company’s Studio Theater, and the PSC storefront studio. Stay tuned for a preview of the festival in these pages; for now, start getting excited about a line-up that includes a post-apocalyptic zombie puppet improv, an interpretive-dance reinterpretation of The Labyrinth, a production of Sartre’s No Exit, and “a montage of the world’s collective wisdom about flatulence.”

Secondly, we’ll see plenty of Shakespeare, a summer perennial. A Portland favorite, the Fenix Theatre Company returns to Deering Oaks Park with what’s said to be a particularly raw Romeo and Juliet (July 18-August 10), while the even darker Titus Andronicus goes up this weekend at Mad Horse (June 6-30). Acorn Productions returns to Riverside Park in Westbrook for an al fresco distillation of Henry IV billed as The War of the Roses (June 14-16). Up at the Theater at Monmouth, what used to be a full roster of Bard shows is now limited to Taming of the Shrew (along with The Knight of the Burning Pestle by a contemporary of Shakespeare, Our Town, and a stage adaptation of Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking; all in repertory). Finally, Twelfth Night will play at Library Park in Bath, produced by Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble (July 20-August 4).

And of course, summer is simply swimming in musicals. Here are a few highlights: The grisly barber of Fleet Street comes to Portsmouth, in Seacoast Repertory Company’s Sweeney Todd (June 7-July 13), while the lighter and sillier Young Frankenstein, based on, yes, the Mel Brooks film, will play at the Ogunquit Playhouse (July 10-27). Up in Brunswick, Maine State Music Theatre starts off its season with the R&B aspirations of Dreamgirls, then brings in the hugely possible Les Miserables (June 26-July 13); MSMT will also stage Gypsy (July 17-August 3) and Mary Poppins (August 7-24). Finally, the Arundel Barn Playhouse will present not only Chicago (July 2 through July 13), All Shook Up (August 6-17), and Always, Patsy Cline (August 20-31), but the New England premiere of Shrek the Musical (July 2 through July 13).

Another show, The Freaks Club, is also a musical, but this one is original and odd enough to warrant its own category: its heroine, a girl with fish-scale skin, a boy who can’t touch, and someone who can see only shadows all travel to a remote island to seek a cure to normalize themselves. This world premiere goes up as a production of Snowlion Repertory Company (June 13-23). Three misfits also figure in Salamanticus, a second summer production of Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble. In this comedy/fantasy, the three seek out a magic book that will save their ailing kingdom. Salamanticus runs in the town hall up in lovely Bowdoinham (July 26-August 11).

Summer also will see some comedies. Hallowell’s Gaslight Theater will mount the farce No Sex Please, We’re British (June 14-23), about a mail order gone pornographically awry. In the meta-theater/thriller area of the comedy spectrum, we have Deathtrap, a tale of an increasingly desperate formerly successful playwright, which plays at Lyric Music Theater (June 21-30). And if you happened to miss the McCourt brothers drinking, raconteuring, and playing the spoons, do scoot up to the Deertrees Theatre summer season, in Harrison.

  Topics: Theater , Theater at Monmouth, PortFringe
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