A Year In Preview: What will 2017 bring to Maine theatre?

Offering an apropos start to 2017, Mad Horse continues its theatrical exploration of the dark and apocalyptic, with the dark “virtual wonderland” of The Nether (January 19–February 5). It’ll be followed by The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (March 23–April 9) and the acclaimed Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play (May 4–21).


A special delight of the new year will be the return of Dramatic Repertory Company! The wonderful Keith Powell Beyland is back in the director’s chair to stage David Ives’ funny and erotic Venus in Fur (March 2–12), and it’s much to celebrate.


After starting its season with the comedy Arsenic and Old Lace (January 24–February 19), Portland Stage goes to the weird with Buyer and Cellar (February 28–March 26), a fiction about the true “private shopping mall” in Barbra Streisand’s basement. Later in the season comes Brenda Withers’ Clauder Competition winner String Around My Finger (April 4–23), and the Pulitzer-winning Disgraced (May 2–21).


Good Theater kicks off 2017 with the character-driven epistolary of Love Letters (January 4–Februrary 25); then stages two explorations of women returning to hometowns, The May Queen (January 25–February 26) and Horton Foote’s modern classic The Trip to Bountiful (March 29–April 30).


“Power, passion, and privilege” shape the season at the Theater at Monmouth, which in addition to Macbeth and Othello will stage Three Days of Rain, about an architect’s mysterious will; Molière’s The Learned Ladies; and Red Velvet, which tells of a black American in 1833 taking over the role of Othello in Covent Garden (all in summer repertory).


Over a dozen Shakespeare shows are woven together in an important new production by the newly formed Theater Ensemble of Color: The Others (January 13-15) presents a new formulation of the Bard, at SPACE Gallery. And Acorn’s Naked Shakespeare continues First Friday Bard scenes at Mechanics Hall.


This year Fenix Theater Company takes an exciting break from Shakespeare to present Chekhov’s Three Sisters. Elsewhere for classics, Portland Players brings out Romeo and Juliet (Portland Players, January 27–February 12) (along with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, March 24–June 4, and Rock of Ages, May 19–June 4). Pie Man Theatre Company opens 2017 at Mayo Street Arts with Shaw’s classic Arms and The Man (February 16–26) (and later presents the world premiere of Kevin O’Leary’s Lascaux, May 11–21, about the famous cave paintings).


Also at Mayo Street Arts come Puppet Cabarets on January 29 and March 25; a new Shoestring Puppet Theater adaptation of Peter Pan (March 17 and 18); and Bess Welden’s original play Legbala is a River, about a woman whose husband goes to treat Ebola patients in Africa (June 8–18).


Down in Portsmouth, the Players’ Ring offers an especially rich line-up, including Jean Genet’s The Maids (January 27–February 12); the cocaine-riddled Hollywood drama Hurlyburly (March 10–26); All the Way (April 21–May 7), about LBJ; its own Venus in Fur (May 12–29); and Compleat Female Beauty (June 2–18), about what happens a famous Elizabethan portrayer of female roles finds the rules changed to allow women onstage.


Also in Portsmouth, the New Hampshire Theatre Project stages an adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (January 13–29), as well as the super one-man show I Am My Own Wife (April 21–30), and a new multi-media show with animation and original jazz composition, The Adventures of Oliver Z. Wanderkook (June 16–25).


2017 offers plenty of musicals: Lyric presents Little Women (January 13–29), Spring Awakening (March 17–April 2), and Catch Me If You Can (June 2–18); and Maine State Music Theatre offers Always Patsy Cline (June 7–24), Guys and Dolls (June 28–July 18), Grease (July 19–August 5), and Disney’s Newsies (August 9–26), a David-and-Goliath story of the 1899 newsboy strike.


For the kids, The Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine stages The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (February) and The Little Mermaid (April).


In a show about kids, The Public Theatre in Lewiston puts on Under the Skin (January 27–February 5), about parent-child relationships; plus romantic follies in Wrong for Each Other (March 17–26) and nursing-home shenanigans in Ripcord (May 5–14).


The Footlights in Falmouth offers a variety of relationship-driven shows, including Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun (January 12–28); Shedding Light (February 2–11), about race and faith; the sex-comedy The Naked Truth (February 23–March 11); Right Place, Right Time (March 23–April 1), about a marriage of convenience; and a musical about pregnancy, Baby Bumps (May 4–20).


Finally, Snowlion Repertorty’s socially-driven theater project about panhandlers, Anything Helps God Bless, which just had its workshop production, is scheduled to premiere in full in the fall of 2017. Here’s to more good work to help us navigate the state of things in the new year.

Last modified onTuesday, 27 December 2016 10:30