Theater (145)

Midsummer of the 1980s: Bare Portland slips over the top with crazy Dream

Puck’s famous observation about the human species – namely, what fools we be – applies especially well to the 1980s. And so Bare Portland’s ‘80s-infused Midsummer Night’s Dream – riddled with punk rock, pink tutus, and a throwback soundtrack – is an easy sell and a balm of glittering, occasionally over-the-top silliness. Under the direction of Carmen-maria Mandley, Midsummer’s energetic cast of over twenty actors, many of them young or emerging actors, careens gamely through…

A restrained Henry V: Theater at Monmouth delivers nuanced production

Shakespeare’s Henry V is a coming-of-age story – Henry, once known as Hal, the young regular of taverns and Falstaff, finally comes into manhood and kingship. But Henry V is also an overtly theatrical story about war, about both a battle (the Battle of Agincourt, near the end of England’s Hundred Years War with France) and battle itself. Mark Mineart directs a clarion, beautifully restrained, affecting production, at the Theater at Monmouth.   Henry V…

The Bard in the park: Ample laughs from Much Ado About Nothing

Al fresco Shakespeare season is upon us, and ah, how well suited summer is for the silliest and most confectionary of the Bard’s romps. Such is Much Ado About Nothing, the plot of which – a villain bastard, a wronged maiden, a faked death, et cetera – is really secondary to the verbal explosions between two witty curmudgeons, Beatrice (Sally Wood) and Bendick (Rob Cameron) who first abuse and then fall adorably in love with…

An island amid chaos: Fort Gorges performance work emerges from a dream

As the violence of the last week has us reeling anew, a new dance work, Spectacular Black Death, will bring participants out to an island for a lyrical meditation on race and a ritual for healing. Spectacular Black Death, a performance work of movement, music and verse by knightworks dance theater, will be staged this Saturday at Fort Gorges, as part of the arts events series A Long Wait. Spectaular Black Death seeks to pose…

A nose for nostalgia: Theater at Monmouth excels with Cyrano

Beauty and eloquence seem an unmeetable twain in Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac, in which the title poet thinks so little of his own over-proportioned nose that he woos his beloved only on behalf of a handsome other. Contemporary playwright Jo Roets has adapted Rostand’s classic, which called for dozens of players, into a pared-down show for just three actors. The Theater at Monmouth presents a tender, affectingly conceived production, in repertory, under…

With expert production in Brunswick, Evita evokes harrowing populism

Seventy years ago and a continent south of our own current surge and brand of populism, there were Argentina’s Peróns. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, the pop/rock opera about Argentine actress-turned-politician Eva Perón, in a bold production at Maine State Music Theatre, in Brunswick, under the direction of Marc Robin.   The plot follows the rise of Evita (Kate Fahrner) from small-town girl to stage, radio and screen star to wife of populist…

Anything Goes in Ogunquit: With Struthers, top-notch cast, Cole Porter never sounded so good

Among American composer-lyricists, Cole Porter is one of our greats. His show Anything Goes contains some of the songbook’s signatures: “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which became a staple of Sinatra, and, of course, the title number, a diamond-perfect example of an American show tune – light, stylish and arch. The casual glamor, wry farce, and all-hands-on-deck spectacle of Anything Goes are all on gloriously performed display in the Ogunquit Playhouse’s outstanding production,…

From Garbage to Genius: Samples of the brilliance in PortFringe

PortFringe is underway! This grab-bag of four reviews but grazes the surface of the 50+ shows, so spend some time in friendly PortFringe Central (the Portland Stage lobby) for schedules, tickets (cash-only and all-rush), and to get your Fringe on. In Leda & Her Letters (Portland Stage Studio Theater, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. and June 26 at 2:15 p.m.), writer/director Molly Hunt makes loose allusion to the myth of Leda and the swan to…

PortFringe packs a punch

Happy fifth birthday to PortFringe, Portland’s ballsy and exuberant festival of new, edgy, experimental, and otherwise weird work! Running from June 18-26, PF-16 presents 50-plus productions, staged at Geno’s Rock Club, Empire, and Portland Stage’s Mainstage, Studio, and Store Front theaters.   PF-16 Vitals: Entry to all shows works on a Passholder system (punch passes, rather than tickets to specific shows), Seating is All-Rush (first come, first served at the door) Passes can be purchased…

The summer in theater offerings

Summer finally approaches, with its various theatrical pleasures. And chief among these, for anyone in Portland who thrills at the new, edgy, and/or unclassifiable, is PortFringe (June 18-26), the unjuried fringe festival that this year turns five. Look for a round-up of PF-16 shows next week in this column The season returns al fresco Shakespeare to the city, and once again we’ll have two companies bringing us the Bard: On the bandshell of Deering Oaks…
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