Spring is now officially here, and with it comes a happy surge of new theatrical energies.
For starters, this Thursday, March 23, sees the world-premiere, one-night-only performance of “somewhere/elsewhere,” the pop-rock musical story of a Turkish immigrant’s journey to the U.S. Scarborough writer Kerem Durdag wrote the story, book and lyrics based on his own experiences, and the music is by Andy Happel, musician and lyricist for the band Thanks to Gravity. The show was commissioned by Portland Ovations and will be performed one night only at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center.
Another homegrown production, Bess Welden’s “Deathwings Project,” takes the stage at The Theater Project in Brunswick (March 30–April 8) and at Meetinghouse Arts in Freeport (April 20–29). “Deathwings” is a multidisciplinary exploration of grief. The project began with community art-making workshops earlier this year, and the project now continues with performances and an interactive art installation.
Yet another original work and multidisciplinary work, Imaginary Island’s “You are Going to be Healed,” is a mingling of dance, theater, and public ritual. After performances last summer in Payson Park and at the Boston MFA, the show has continued to evolve and will be offering its strange and wonderful healing high jinks at SPACE, March 30 and 31.
Multimedia elements fuel Footlights Theatre’s current show, “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” (March 16–April 8). The drama combines theatrical performance with projected images and interview footage of Holocaust survivors, and which is onstage now in Falmouth.
Also onstage now via Threshold Stage Company at Kittery’s Star Theatre is a production of Lucas Hnath’s sequel to the Ibsen drama, “A Doll’s house Part 2” (March 17–April 2), in which Nora returns to a turbulent reunion with her husband and daughter.
Just around the corner comes a straight-ahead, feel-good classic: Good Theater wraps its 2022-23 season with “You Can’t Take it With You,” the Kaufman and Hart musical comedy about love and taxes (March 29–April 23).
Other musicals are on tap at Lyric Music Theater, which brings the musical murder mystery “Curtains” (March 24–April 8); and at Portland Players, which gives us middle-aged guys taking it off for charity and self-empowerment in “The Full Monty” (May 19–June 4).
The dancers are much younger than those guys in Mad Horse’s next show, “Dance Nation” (April 20–May 14) — they’re ferociously competitive members of a middle-school dance team — and yet they’re portrayed by full-grown adults channeling their pre-teen pasts. Catharsis all around!
Look for moral self-searching in Portland Stage Company’s next show, “The Cake” (April 5–23), in which a baker who must contend with her own beliefs and bias: Della has long looked forward to baking her younger friend’s wedding cake, but is thrown when that friend turns out to be marrying another woman.
On the lighter side comes the Public Theatre’s “Jeeves and Wooster in ‘Perfect Nonsense’” (April 21–30), a play-within-a-play about the adventures of the man and his valet; and “POLKADOTS: The Cool Kids Musical” (May 19–21), a family show about acceptance, self-worth, and “the challenge of being the first Polkadot in an all-Square school.”
More for the kids mounts at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, with “Gruff!” (April 14–May 14). In this musical, the goats have run out of food in their toxic home. Their journey for sustenance brings them to a place where every plant is beloved, and where the goats learn about the merits of cooperation and sustainable resource management.
Finally, Bread and Puppet returns to everyone’s favorite puppet haven, Mayo Street Arts, with “Inflammatory Earthling Rants (with help from Kropotkin)” on April 23. In this totally fictional puppet extravaganza, the planet is on fire and requires immediate attention. This response takes the form of incantations directed at the arsonist, which is to say, at “Western Civilization and its incompetent government.” We should all be there and taking notes. Here’s to rebirth and better possibilities!
Megan Grumbling is a writer, editor, and teacher who lives in Portland. Find her at megangrumbling.com.