One of the first shows of the new year is a kids’ show, but one that anyone with Zoom fatigue might identify with at this point: It’s called “Crisscrossing the Galaxy at Faster than the Speed of Light for a Hug.”
Opening this weekend at the beautiful Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, “Galaxy” (Jan. 21-Feb. 6) tells the story of young Skylar, who lives in such a tech-obsessed world that physical human contact has become a rarity. So, they go on a galactic journey to rediscover it.
Next month, CMTM will follow “Galaxy” with a vaudeville-inflected musical rendition of “A Year with Frog and Toad” (Feb. 18-March 20). COVID-19 protocols: Masks are required for audience members ages 5 and up and recommended for those 2-4; the theater will be seating at reduced capacity. FMI: https://www.kitetails.org/see-a-show.
Another early-year opening comes from Portland Stage Company, which mounts “Senior Living” (in-theater Jan. 26-Feb. 13; digital on-demand Feb. 9-27). Billed pithily as “a play with music about people dying to live,” the show explores residents of a retirement community in the Bronx as they stage a talent show and contend with questions about love and loss near the end of life.
Up next at PSC will be “Last Ship to Proxima Centauri,” a Clauder Award-winning sci-fi (March 2-20); “I and You” (March 30-April 17), a story about two students, Walt Whitman, and the mystery of human connection, and “Sabina,” a musical about a female psychiatrist sidelined out of history by Freud and Jung (May 4-22). COVID-19 protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test are required; seating is at reduced capacity. FMI: https://www.portlandstage.org.
A surrealist ensemble comedy and riff on “Alice in Wonderland” is the first show of the year at Mad Horse Theatre Company. In “Waiting for Alice,” by local playwright, actor, and Mad Horse company member Allison McCall, members of the Mad Hatter’s tea party rehearse their ceremonies in advance of Alice’s arrival. (The show is presently set to run Feb. 3-27 but may be postponed a week.)
Mad Horse follows with the dark comedy “Collective Rage” (May 5-9), about five women named Betty putting on a genderqueer Shakespeare show and contending with how to live in our fraught times. COVID-19 protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test are required; seating is at reduced capacity. FMI: https://www.madhorse.com.
Good Theater opens 2022 with the Maine premiere of the father-son comedy “Harry Townsend’s Last Stand” (Feb. 2-20), followed by mainstage shows “Significant Other” (March 2-20), a show of bachelorette antics, and the Western musical comedy caper “Desperate Measures” (March 30-April 24).
Good Theater is also mounting a second stage series of cabaret-style musical evenings: “Broadway Goes Pop” (Jan. 29-Feb. 8) and “MEN: Things That Go Bump in the Night” (Feb. 12-19). COVID-19 protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination are required. FMI: https://www.goodtheater.com.
Is everything we think necessarily true? Maybe/probably not. Snowlion Repertory Company opens the year with “Think You Might Be Wrong” (March 2-6, at Footlights Theater in Falmouth), the world premiere of a show by and starring storyteller Chris Newcomb, who tells a series of vignettes that might inspire us to rethink what we think.
Later in the spring finds Snowlion producing its long-awaited world premiere of the musical comedy “The Secret Princess” (April 29-May 8, at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport). COVID-19 protocols: At Footlights Theater, masks are required and vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is requested; seating is at reduced capacity. FMI: https://www.snowlionrep.org.
Dramatic Repertory Company will remount the boards this April with a riff on the Brontës: “The Moors” (April 1-10) is a dark comedy about spinster sisters living with secrets and tumultuous strangeness on an English heath. Later this spring, DRC continues with “Grounded” (May 27-June 5), a powerful one-woman show about a fighter pilot turned drone operator. FMI: https://www.dramaticrep.org.
With marijuana happily legal in our state, it’s a fun time to revisit the absurd scare-tactics musically satirized in “Reefer Madness,” at Portland Players in South Portland (April 1-17). The company follows up with a musical set during the Vietnam War era, “Dogfight” (May 20-June 5). https://www.portlandplayers.org.
Another musical, one that’s also a murder mystery and a tribute to the golden age of musical theater, starts the year at South Portland’s Lyric Music Theatre, with “Curtains” (March 11-27). COVID-19 protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test are required. FMI: https://lyricmusictheater.org.
In Falmouth, Footlights Theatre follows the Snowlion show with “A Passage of Time” (April 7-23), a comedy about a couple’s dream to open a bed-and-breakfast on the Maine coast. The company will next stage “Surrender Dorothy” (May 5-21), which follows the Kansas heroine as she returns to Oz in “groovy 1969.” COVID-19 protocols: Masks are required and vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is requested; seating is at reduced capacity. FMI: https://www.thefootlightstheatre.com.
Missteps lead to romance in the spring show at Public Theatre, “Dancing Lessons” (onstage March 11-20 and online on-demand March 15-20). The Lewiston company continues the season with a tribute to golden-age Hollywood in “Screwball Comedy” (onstage April 29-May 8 and streaming on-demand May 3-8). COVID-19 protocols: Masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test are required; empty seats on either side of your party are available on request. FMI: https://thepublictheatre.org.
Finally, while the wonderfully wild and weird boundary-breakage of the PortFringe Festival happens in the summer (June 13-18), their pop-up fundraising event is on the horizon this spring (April 1-2) – and PortFringe’s pop-ups are always not-to-be-missed.
This year it’s a riff on “Pirates of Penzance,” with its scenes to be assigned randomly to 10 different theater companies. It feels appropriate this year to immerse in fragmented musical satire as we dream of summer. FMI: http://portfringe.com/pop-up-pirates-of-penzance.
Megan Grumbling is a writer, editor, and teacher who lives in Portland. Find her at megangrumbling.com.