a group of nine actors pose for a photo
Teresa Dyer, Chris Newcomb, Kelly Caufield, Pat Scully, Emily Bartley, Alan McLucas, Mary Johnston Letellier, Joel Crowley, and Betsey deGroff, actors in Snowlion Repertory Company's "The Christmas Bride." (Photo courtesy Snowlion Rep)
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After a gorgeous solstice and first days of summer, we Mainers are poised for a theater line-up of seasonal archetypes and pleasures on stages and in the open air.

One of the first shows up this summer is a special production of a special Maine summer classic, as the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine mounts E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” (June 30-July 30). Long-time CMTM magic-worker Reba Askari directs an all-adult production inspired by a minimalist “Our Town” staging style, with six stellar local actors playing all the roles. I’ll be heading to this one with or without a kid. And the theater follows up with another childhood classic, a musical version of “Make Way for Ducklings” (August 11-27).

Caleb Eugley as Wilbur and Allison McCall as Charlotte in Charlotte's Web at the Children's Theatre and Museum of Maine.
Caleb Eugley as Wilbur and Allison McCall as Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web at the Children’s Theatre and Museum of Maine. (Photo credit: Katie Day)

Fenix Theatre Company once again continues its beloved tradition of theater in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park. This year it’s the Shakespeare madcap comedy “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare [abridged] [revised] (again)” (July 6-30), in which three actors — Noli French, Chantal King, and Lauren Stockless — try to perform all of the Bard’s plays in 90 minutes.

A more traditional al fresco Shakespeare production comes from the long-running Camden Shakespeare Festival, which presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Camden Harbor (July 12-Aug. 6), as well as in Bath (July 15-16), Bowdoinham (July 8), and Monson (July 22).

Another tradition in Maine summer Shakespeare (and other fare as well) is the Theater at Monmouth, whose season this year is themed on “Brave New Worlds.” The Bard’s works in this year’s program are “Richard II” and “As You Like It,” which will run along with the musical “The Story of My Life,” about friendship and a eulogy; “An Iliad,” a modern retelling of Homer’s classic; and Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” (all shows run in repertory).

The heat isn’t just a matter of the summer sun in “HOT FLASH! What A Feelin’” (July 25-Aug. 31), a variety-show-style comedy about menopause, conceived by Michael J. Tobin at the Footlights at Falmouth (with other summer fare TBA).

For a little seasonal contrast, Snowlion Repertory Company gives us Christmas in July with “The Christmas Bride in Concert,” a musical romance involving characters drawn from the novels of Charles Dickens. The show, which features several high-test singers from Maine and beyond, runs July 8 at Meetinghouse Arts, in Freeport; July 9 at the Hill Arts (formerly St. Lawrence Arts Center), in Portland; and July 11 at 7 pm in the Opera House at Boothbay Harbor.

Another Maine-made musical, “Squeeze Me!,” is onstage from July 6-23 in Brunswick, at the Theater Project. The show, with book, music, and lyrics by Maine writer Brian Daly, follows the owner of a plastics factory in New York City who attempts to save her company by commissioning the world’s first “industrial musical.”

Musicals generally abound come summer, and Maine State Music Theatre has a bunch in store. The season includes the jukebox musical “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” (June 28-July 15). Hardworking women raise their voices in “9 to 5” (July 19-Aug. 5), and the summer ends with “Something Rotten” (Aug. 9-26), a mash-up of Shakespeare and a modern Broadway aesthetic. The theater also presents a children’s series, which includes “3 Little Pigs” (July 24) and “Alice in Wonderland” (August 21).

Down at the Ogunquit Playhouse, the classic “Singin’ in the Rain” is onstage now through July 15, followed by the more contemporary homage “On Your Feet: The story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan (July 20-Aug. 19) and a stage adaptation of the mystical conspiracy theories of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” (Aug. 24-Sep. 23).

Further south yet in Portsmouth, Seacoast Rep presents “Newsies” (through July 8), then the peace and free-love classic “Hair” (July 14-Aug. 27), with a Red Light Series production of “Rocky Horror” mixed in (Aug. 11-26).

Finally, over at the lovely historic Deertrees Theatre, in Harrison, along with an array of musical acts, we’ve got John Cariani’s new Maine classic “Almost, Maine” (July 7, 21, and 23, and July 8 and 22) and also a re-staging (back by popular demand!) of the “rated N-for Naughty” musical “An Evening at Dave’s Sauna” (Aug. 4-5), a paean to storied debauchery and mingling of Maine archetypes at the legendary South Paris sauna of the 1980s.

Also on tap at Deertreees are a new multimedia dance and circus arts performance by sisters Nettie and Hannah Gentempo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon” (Aug. 24-25) and Deertrees Artistic Director Gail Phaneuf’s one-woman show about Boston’s social justice hero Kip Tiernan, “Kippy – Pray for the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living!” (Sep. 1).

Megan Grumbling is a writer, editor, and teacher who lives in Portland. Find her at megangrumbling.com





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