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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: September 28, 2016

Ready… set… go! Fall’s ready for theater

Written by: Bob Keyes
Rae C. Wright, left, John Hadden and Kate Udall in "Later Life," a romance at Portland Stage Company through Oct. 22. Photo by Aaron Flacke

Rae C. Wright, left, John Hadden and Kate Udall in “Later Life,” a romance at Portland Stage Company through Oct. 22.
Photo by Aaron Flacke

A.R. Gurney’s “Later Life” is the perfect play for our virile society, where 70 is the new 40 and where love, or something like it, seems like a lifetime possibility.

The romance opens the 2016-17 season at Portland Stage Company and is part of a fall theater lineup that will see the return of “Rent” at Merrill Auditorium for a 20th anniversary tour, the Portland premiere of Christopher Durang’s Tony-winning “Vayna and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Good Theater and Kevin O’Leary’s original play “The Roles of a Lifetime,” an imagined story behind the birth of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

With the death this month of Edward Albee, Gurney, who turns 86 on Nov. 1, inherits the mantle as America’s senior statesman of the stage. He’s written dozens of searing commentaries about upper-class life in contemporary culture. His titles include “The Cocktail Hour,” “Love Letters” and “The Dining Room.”

“Later Life” is about a 60-something divorced man from Boston who reconnects with an old flame at a fancy cocktail party. It’s a one-act play, set in a nonspecific contemporary time, and revolves entirely around Austin and Ruth, played by John Hadden and Rae C. Wright, and a coterie of revelers, played by Ron Botting and Kate Udall.

Cecil MacKinnon directs. This is her first time directing “Later Life.”

“The plays I like the most of his really do say something about people. They don’t just tell about manners and mores,” MacKinnon said. “They’re very WASP, but with a lot of love. You feel like he loves the people, and he understands their limits.”

“Later Life” channels Henry James’ “The Beast in the Jungle.” The play focuses on a man unable to risk making a move toward the woman who offers him a future. Will he change his life or stay in his comfort zone?

Published in 1993, “Later Life” feels more relevant now than when Gurney wrote it, MacKinnon said. The playwright was in his 60s then. It was a time in American culture when 60 still seemed old to many people, or at least the age when people began slowing down. Not anymore, she said. “More people have much more of a ‘later life’ now than before. It’s not all about nursing homes at all – especially in Maine. People are so active here.”

“Later Life” at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., runs through Oct. 22, with a final preview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Regular performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $32 to $48 with discounts for students and seniors; 774-0465 or portlandstage.org

Mad Horse Theatre Company member Shannon Campbell plays candidate Penny Easter in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's comedy "The Totalitarians." Photo courtesy of Mad Horse Theatre Company

Mad Horse Theatre Company member Shannon Campbell plays candidate Penny Easter in Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s comedy “The Totalitarians.”
Photo courtesy of Mad Horse Theatre Company

‘THE TOTALITARIANS’

In South Portland, Mad Horse Theatre Company opens its 31st season on Thursday with the political comedy “The Totalitarians” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, which explores, among other things, why it’s so easy to believe “truths” without knowing facts.

It features Mad Horse members Shannon Campbell, Janice Gardner and Mark Rubin and guest artist Jacob Cote. Director Chris Horton calls the lead character “a narcissistic, big-haired former roller derby queen on the verge of being elected to the second highest office in the state of Nebraska, running a campaign of garbled populism delivered in vacuous slogans.”

“The Totalitarians” opens Thursday and runs through Oct. 16 at the Mad Horse theater in the former Hutchins School, 24 Mosher St., South Portland. Regular performance times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, except Sunday, Oct. 2, when the show will be performed at 7 p.m.; $23 adults, $20 seniors and students; 747-4148 or madhorse.com.

‘UNDER MILK WOOD’

In Gorham, the University of Southern Maine theater department presents the Dylan Thomas play “Under Milk Wood.” It opens Friday and continues through Oct. 9. Andrew Harris, the department’s new chairman, directs the student cast.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 5 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6-8 and 5 p.m. Oct. 9 at Russell Hall, USM Gorham; $15, $11 for seniors and USM employees and alumni, $8 for students; $5 for all seats on Wednesday; 780-5646 or usm.maine.edu/theatre.

‘NINA’

In Brunswick, the Theater Project, 14 School St., opens its 45th season with the original drama “Nina” by Lynne Conner. Directed by Lisa Muller-Jones, “Nina” examines the lives of two concentration camp survivors whose 50-year friendship is challenged by the death of a daughter. It stars Kim Gordon, Kate O’Neill and Abigail Killeen.

“Nina” runs through Sunday with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. All performances are pay what you want with a suggested donation of $20; 729-8584 or theaterproject.com.

‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’

Good Theater presents the Portland premiere of the comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” opening Oct. 19 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland.

Brian P. Allen directs a cast that includes Paul Haley, Laura Houck, Meredith Lamothe, Noelle LuSane, Lisa Stathoplos and Marshall Taylor Thurman. Written by Christopher Durang, it won the 2013 Tony Award for best play.

This is another play about family dynamics and what happens when middle-aged siblings and housemates Vanya and Sonia have their world turned upside down when their movie-star sister shows up for a visit.

It runs through Nov. 5 with performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $22 to $30; 885-5883 or goodtheater.com.

‘THE SECRET OF COMEDY’

Pie Man Theatre Company presents “The Secret of Comedy,” a comedy-drama by Maine playwright Michael Kimball. It opens Oct. 20 at Mayo Street Arts in Portland and tells a family story about death and dying.

Comedy is all about timing, right? This one finds a comedy writer diagnosed with a terminal illness the day her husband, an airline pilot, wins the lottery. Their adult daughter moves back home to help out.

The preview is Oct. 19, it opens Oct. 20 and runs through Oct. 30, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland; $20; 619-4885 or piemantheatre.org/box-office.

Rob Cameron, left, J.P. Guimont and Corey Gagne star in "The Roles of a Lifetime," opening Nov. 3 at the Portland Ballet Studio Theatre. Photo courtesy of Luminous Productions

Rob Cameron, left, J.P. Guimont and Corey Gagne star in “The Roles of a Lifetime,” opening Nov. 3 at the Portland Ballet Studio Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Luminous Productions

‘THE ROLES OF A LIFETIME’

Luminous Productions presents the premiere of playwright Kevin O’Leary’s “The Roles of a Lifetime,” an imagined day in August 1623 when actors John Heminge and Henry Condell brought all of William Shakespeare’s plays to the printing house of Isaac Jaggard and Edward Blount for preservation and publication. The play stars Rob Cameron, J.P. Guimont and Corey Gagne.

“The Roles of a Lifetime” opens Nov. 3 at the Portland Ballet Studio Theatre, 517 Forest Ave., Portland. It runs through Nov. 13 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.; $10; 831-2434 or KevinOLeary.ticketleap.com.

‘RENT’

It’s been 20 years since “Rent” opened on Broadway. This fall, Portland Ovations brings the traveling Broadway musical to Merrill Auditorium for performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 5.

Jonathan Larson’s musical became a soundtrack for the times, as it told the story of struggling artists in New York as they face down fear and opt for hope and joy.

Tickets range from $52 to $77; 842-0800 or portlandovations.org.

‘ON GOLDEN POND’

In Falmouth, Footlights Theatre tackles a classic story about love, aging and family dynamics with “On Golden Pond,” Oct. 5-22. Written by Ernest Thompson, the play tells the story of retired couple Ethel and Norman Thayer and their camp on Golden Pond. When daughter Chelsea brings along her 13-year-old son for a visit, tension mounts and boils over to a crisis.

Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Footlights Theatre, 190 Route 1, Falmouth; 747-5434 or the footlightsinfalmouth.com.

‘THE LIFT’

In Kennebunk, Storm Warnings Repertory Theatre presents “The Lift,” a play by Susan Staples, at the Brick Store Performing Arts Center. It opens Friday and runs two weekends.

“The Lift” tells the story of Lily and Rose, dancers who meet in college and reunite 30 years later. It’s a story of love, regret and courage. Stephen McLaughlin directs a cast that includes Hal Cohen, Shelly Elmer, Carolyn Ezzy, Elizabeth Freeman, Payce Shepard and Tim Wooten.

“The Lift,” 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and Oct. 7 and 8, at the Brick Store Performing Arts Center, 117 Main St., Kennebunk; $15; 441-8163 or stormwarningstheatre.com.

‘Angel Street (aka Gaslight)’

In the Buxton village of Bar Mills, the Originals present the Victorian-era thriller “Angel Street (aka Gaslight),” opening Oct. 21 at the Saco River Theatre. It’s about an English couple who lives in a mysterious old house, which may be responsible for the wife’s decline from mental wellness – perfect for Halloween. It stars Brian Chamberlain, Jennifer Porter and Dana Packard.

“Angel Street (aka Gaslight)” runs through Oct. 31 at the Saco River Theatre, 29 Salmon Falls Road, Bar Mills; $20 and $18; 929-6472 or sacorivertheatre.org.

‘LAST GAS’

In Lewiston, the Public Theatre, 31 Maple St., opens its season with “Last Gas” by Maine playwright and Broadway actor John Cariani. It opens Oct. 14 and runs through Oct. 23. Another in Cariani’s stories from northern Maine, “Last Gas” is about a loner Red Sox fan who runs the last place to get gas before crossing into Canada. His world changes when an old flame arrives the same day his best friend offers him tickets to the Red Sox-Yankees game.

Starting Oct. 14, performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; $20; 782-3200 or thepublictheatre.org

‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’

The Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main St., keeps its summer rolling right through fall. The theater closes its production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” on Saturday and opens the final show of its season, the jukebox musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” on Wednesday. It runs through Nov. 6 with performances at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets range from $47 to $87; 646-5511 or ogunquitplayhouse.org

‘CABARET’

In Kittery, Patrick Dorow Productions presents “Cabaret” at Star Theatre at Kittery Community Center, 120 Rogers Road. The show opens Friday and runs through Oct. 9. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 6; 8 p.m. Oct. 7; 3 and 8 p.m. Oct. 8; and 5 p.m. Oct. 9. $20 to $100; patrickdorowproductions.com.

 

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