More Bard, please

Lots of Shakespeare for summertime
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  June 10, 2009

bard main
IT IS AN ART Legacy Theater's production of Chicago will run from July 10 to 19.

The sultry season is soon upon us, and as always, it will bring area theater-goers such dependable balms as Shakespeare (both in and out of the park), classic musicals, and giddy misbehavior of various sorts. Between that manna and a few original productions, written and performed by local artists, we've got a rich season line-up.

Last month marked the birthday of Walt Whitman, the visionary American poet perhaps most exuberant and most beautifully suited to the stage. Oh Captain, My Captain, a one-night-only July 3 show at the THEATER AT MONMOUTH, celebrates both Whitman and his America. Written and directed by Monmouth Associate Artistic Director Bill Van Horn, the play brings us into Whitman's parlor in the spring of 1887, as he prepares to tour the country performing his works based on the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Originally produced this winter in Philadelphia by the superb Van Horn, this production is not to be missed.

Other historical figures will be conjured in a performance by the much-lauded lesbian playwright Carolyn Cage, a collection of whose plays recently won the prestigious Lambda Literary Award for Drama, the top LGBT book award in the US. A selection from this collection will be performed in Greetings from Lesbos, Maine: A Theatrical Journey through Maine's Lesbian History, at the ST. LAWRENCE ARTS CENTER (August 28 and 29), which includes evocations of poet Renee Vivien, author Sarah Orne Jewett, and hunting and fishing guide "Fly Rod" Crosby. (And Gage's Goddess Tour comes to the BRACKETT MEMORIAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH on Peaks Island, on June 27 and 28.)

One of summer's great pleasures is the luxurious omnipresence of the Bard. The Theater at Monmouth will stage both a traditional production of Hamlet and a rendition of Twelfth Night that gives a nod to "the spirit of the great old movie comedies" (both in rep). Modern edge may tweak the second summer show of the FENIX THEATRE COMPANY, which will perform The Taming of the Shrew in Deering Oaks Park — for free — with a little leather (June 4-28). And there's still time to catch the last of the run of the sobering Julius Caesar, which runs through June 21 at the PLAYERS' RING.

As for musicals, we'll have them in several tasty flavors: '60s Mod (Shout at the OGUNQUIT PLAYHOUSE, June 17-July 11; and Suds at the ARUNDEL BARN PLAYHOUSE, through June 20); '70s Jesus-hippie (Godspell at Arundel, June 23-July 11) and Classic. The latter category includes a Singing in the Rain that I'm assured will indeed involve a wet stage (Ogunquit, August 12-September 12); the quintessential small-town New England musical Carousel (Monmouth, in rep); the epic of theatrical ambition Gypsy (SEACOAST REP, in rep); and the Gershwin show that gave us "You Can't Take That Away From Me," Crazy for You (MAINE STATE MUSIC THEATRE, June 24-July 11) about a man whose dream is to dance.

The summer's contemporary theater of self-realization includes David Lindsay-Abaire's Wonder of the World (The THEATER PROJECT, July 10-26), in which a dirty secret in a husband's drawer leads to a wife's epic and hilarious journey. And almost half a dozen reluctant bridesmaids drink it up and glean a little self-awareness in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress (The GASLIGHT THEATER, August 14-22).

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