Jean Tafler as Margaret Hamilton in Snowlion Repertory Company's "My Witch: Margaret Hamilton's Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond," which runs Oct. 29-31 at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport. (Courtesy Francesca Sciacchitano)
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Fall is soon upon us and with it the return of fall theater – with shows to mount in-person and on actual stages, featuring stories both ancient and new.

The COVID-19 situation can change even the best-laid plans quickly, as we know, so always check theaters’ websites for the latest updates. That said, here are some highlights of the season’s announced plays, along with their theaters’ current safety protocols.

Callie Kimball
“Perseverance” playwright Callie Kimball. (Courtesy Portland Stage)

Portland Stage Company opens its fall season with brilliant Maine playwright Callie Kimball’s “Perseverance” (Sept. 29-17). Commissioned to celebrate the centennial of women gaining the vote, the play follows two women in the same small Maine town, but 100 years apart: an African-American schoolteacher and suffragist, and a white schoolteacher running for public office. Up next will be “Searching for Mr. Moon” (Nov. 2-21), by Richard Topol and Willy Holtzman, about Topol’s search for a father when he becomes a father himself.

Masks are required at all times in the theater, and shows will also be made available for streaming online. FMI: www.portlandstage.org.

At Mad Horse Theatre Company in South Portland, the season kicks off with glimpses of a devised project that will extend over five months, led by a collaborative team of artists. “Homecoming: An Odyssey” will draw on Homer’s classic tale to explore the theme of homecoming. Also in the works at Mad Horse will be Clare Baron’s “You Got Older” (Oct. 7-31), a dark coming-of-age comedy involving cancer, sexual desire, and cowboys.

COVID-19 protocols at Mad Horse at this time include a masking requirement, proof of vaccination or a recent COVID-19 test, and reduced seating capacity. The theater is also moving to a “pay-what-you-decide” model of ticket pricing; details to be announced. FMI: www.madhorse.com.  

War across history is the uniting theme for two fall shows at The Theater at Monmouth. Up first is “An Iliad,” (through Sept. 11) a one-man adaptation of Homer’s very old war story, featuring TAM’s venerable Mark S. Cartier. And while war is timeless, TAM’s second fall show, “Grounded” (Sept. 16-26), explores a particularly modern iteration of it, as a pregnant fighter pilot is assigned to warfare via remote drone operation.

Monmouth continues to operate at reduced seating capacity, and masks are required throughout the theater. FMI: http://theateratmonmouth.org/

"My Witch" posterSnowlion Repertory Company lost its performance space at Portland Ballet during the pandemic but has happily regrouped in Freeport, at the new Meetinghouse Arts. Its first show gets up close and personal with the Wicked Witch of the West, in “My Witch: Margaret Hamilton’s Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond” (Oct. 29-31).

The theater’s statement on safety protocols: “Snowlion Rep and Meetinghouse Arts will comply with current CDC guidelines for COVID precautions.  In addition, Snowlion Rep is following all union guidelines (AEA and SDC) to protect our actors and staff.” FMI: https://www.snowlionrep.org/

Up on Portland’s Munjoy Hill at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, Good Theater launches the season with the romantic comedy of manners “Lady Susan” (Oct. 4-Nov. 14), an adaptation of Jane Austen’s short story. Then comes a sassy, adult-themed dual-holiday show, “Who’s Holiday” (Nov. 24-Dec. 5 and Dec. 21-Jan. 2), in which Cindy-Lou Who finally says her piece.

Good Theater’s current COVID-19 plans are a mask requirement for audiences and staff, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours of the performance. FMI: https://goodtheater.com/.

"Jersey Boys"
John Battagliese, left, Joshua Charles Skurnik, Sam Wolf, and Matthew Amira, in Maine State Music Theatre’s “Jersey Boys,” at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. (Courtesy Jared Morneau)

Although Brunswick-based Maine State Music Theatre canceled much of its fall schedule, it will still present a full run of the Four Seasons jukebox show “Jersey Boys” (through Sept. 19), at the 1,000-seat Westbrook Performing Arts Center.

MSMT’s COVID guidelines include an audience masking requirement and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours. FMI: https://msmt.org/.

At Thompson’s Point, the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine starts September with “The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus” (Sept. 17-Oct. 11), a show about the creation of the best fort ever and some seriously magical desert adventures. Up thereafter will be “Jack and Phil, Giant Slayers Inc.” (Oct. 22-Nov. 4), an updating of Jack’s beanstalk conundrum; and “Frederick, The Musical” (Nov. 26-Dec. 30), about a dreamer of a young mouse.

CMTM is producing shows at reduced seating capacity and encourages social distancing, with masks required for audience members over the age of 5 and recommended for kids over 2. FMI: https://www.kitetails.org.  

"Sister Robert Anne's Cabaret Class" posterLyric Music Theatre in South Portland starts the fall with a one-woman show, “Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class” (Sept. 17-26), in which the famous nun from “Nunsense” shows us how it’s done.

COVID protocols include an audience masking requirement and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours. FMI: https://lyricmusictheater.org. 

A comedy starts off the autumn at Footlights at Falmouth, which kicks off the season with a romantic triangle in “I Think I Love You” (Oct. 7-23). That’s followed by “The Colors of My Life,” about a Maine artist who loses her sense of color. Masks are required for unvaccinated audience members but are optional for those who are vaccinated. FMI: https://www.thefootlightstheatre.com.    

In Lewiston, The Public Theater presents “Middletown” (Oct. 15-24; streaming Oct. 19-24), about two couples who have been friends for 33 years, since their kids entered kindergarten together.

The Public Theater requires audience masking throughout the theater and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 48 hours of attending a show. FMI: https://thepublictheatre.org/.

The Theater Project in Brunswick plans to present a selection of one-acts during the first two weekends in November, with rotating casts of four, followed by a holiday production of “Wales and Tales,” featuring, among other things, a rendition of the classic “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” FMI: https://www.theaterproject.com

Freeport Players pours up a mystery at the Freeport Performing Arts Center this month with “Black Coffee” (Sept. 17-26), Agatha Christie’s first play, featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Masks are required for all audience members, and social distancing is encouraged in the 500-seat theater. FMI: www.fcponline.org.

Finally, Mayo Street Arts will present a Top Hat Productions toy theater adaptation of “Little Shop of Horrors” (Oct. 29), in which the singularly amazing, classically trained David Worobec sings every part and manipulates every toy character.

Audience members are required to mask. FMI: www.mayostreetarts.org.