Mixin' it up

Fall's theater shows cover serious ground
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  September 16, 2009

Photo:  Craig Robinson

FIRST UP Good Theater's The Little Dog Laughed.

First on my dance card this fall is the GOOD THEATER's The Little Dog Laughed (September 17-October 11), a scathing comedy about Hollywood, a closeted actor's indiscretions with a hustler, and his agent's desperate clean-up duties. Good Theater's next show, Frost/Nixon (October 29-November 22), sports Tony Reilly leading the cast as the jowly former President.

Politics take us into the university in PORTLAND STAGE COMPANY's season opener, Third (September 29-October 18), in which a liberal female professor accuses a conservative male student of cheating, thereby encountering all sorts of cognitive dissonance. PSC also puts up The Gin Game (October 27-November 15), in which nursing-home residents spar, as a comic exploration of aging.

Aging is also central in MAD HORSE's fall show, The Dresser (October 8-25): A renowned but failing Shakespearean actor prepares to play Lear, but is having trouble remembering not only lines, but his own time and place.

A different aging process haunts David Lindsey-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo (THE ORIGINALS, November 6-14), in which a teenager's disease ages her four times faster than normal. Another Lindsey-Abaire work appears this fall at the GASLIGHT: Rabbit Hole (November 5-14), a work about death and grieving.

Giddier horrors come the Halloween line-up: The PUBLIC THEATRE offers Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (October 16-25); FREEPORT PLAYERS and the Gaslight team up with an adaption of An American Werewolf in London (October 30 and 31); and PLAYERS' RING serves up Grand Guignol horror in Serving His Master (October 16-November 1). And in HARBOR LIGHT THEATRE's Lamplight Dialogues (October 8-25), audiences follow ghosts all around historic Portsmouth.

Elsewhere are glimpses into other historical moments. Freeport Players' Side Man (September 18-October 4) evokes the mid-20th century American Jazz era; CITY THEATRE's Swingtime Canteen (October 16-November 1) rallies the music of the 1940s. And the comedy improv group THE ESCAPISTS goes medieval on us, literally, on September 30 at the North Star.

More humor will be had in LEGACY THEATRE's production of Run for Your Ives (October 9-18), a selection of funny and poignant David Ives short works. Heartfelt comedy also comes in the PENOBSCOT THEATRE COMPANY's presentation of the female bonds of Steel Magnolias (through September 20).

The humor of the musical Alter Boyz is parody: of boy bands and Christian rock music (SEACOAST REPERTORY, September 18-October 11). Other musicals this fall include The Producers at LYRIC MUSIC THEATRE (September 18-27), The Twenty-fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at USM (October 30-November 1); and the classic set-in-a-Maine-village Carousel (September 24-October 4), at THE THEATER AT MONMOUTH.

The world becomes our village in Portland Stage Company's annual From Away (November 9-10), a festival of international playwrights, this year from Uzbekistan and the Philippines.

Laramie, Wyoming, where young gay man Matthew Shepard was murdered, may seem about as far away as Uzbekistan. PSC's STUDIO THEATRE SERIES presents The Laramie Project: Ten Years After (October 12) as a revisitation of the hate crime. In a similar vein, ADD VERB launches a series of teen-performance and tolerance-advocacy workshops called Proud to be an Ally.

Teen issues will also take the stage in the University of Southern Maine's Tea and Sympathy (November 6-15), a coming-of-age tale; and the younger set may find lessons in Everybody Knows What a Dragon Looks Like at the CHILDREN'S MUSEUM AND THEATRE OF MAINE (October 15-25).

Grown-ups can take their lessons from lizards in Edward Albee's Seascape (NEW HAMPSHIRE THEATRE PROJECT, November 13-29), a surrealist take on couples in conflicts. We'll see similar troubles in Company at PORTLAND PLAYERS (through September 27); two from Chekhov, The Bear and The Proposal, at USM (October 1-3); and I Fall For You, an evening of Michael Kimball works at ACORN PRODUCTIONS' new Studio Theater (September 25-26).

Finally, Acorn regales us with an outdoor Sonnets and Soliloquies in Monument Square (September 21), with wine and food — one more opportunity to sop up some summer.

Megan Grumbling can be reached at mgrumbling@hotmail.com.

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