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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: July 30, 2015

Date Night: Plan your evening with dinner, theater and drinks

Written by: Bob Keyes

collageMake plans before – or after – a show with these suggestions from local theater-goers.

The idea of dinner and a show is as old as dating itself. A little food before a play, a couple of hours in the theater and a drink afterward is the framework for a lovely evening.

Summer theater in Maine means dressing up and dressing down, garden gatherings and lazy summer nights measured by the call of the loon at Deertrees in Harrison, of bison roaming nearby fields at Hackmatack in Berwick and sing-alongs in airy Ogunquit bars.

Our suggested night out includes musical theater or Shakespeare with dinner or drinks – or both – in favorite local restaurants and bars. In most cases, these are the suggestions of box-office hosts and theatergoers.

Ogunquit Playhouse

10 Main St. (Route 1), Ogunquit.
Suggested shows: “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” through Aug. 15; “Million Dollar Quartet,” Aug. 19-Sept. 19.
Route 1 construction has made for especially slow-going in Ogunquit this summer, but the historic playhouse south of downtown is worth allowing extra time to reach. Shows this summer are fun, boisterous crowd-pleasers. “Nice Work” stars TV personalities Sally Struthers and Valerie Harper, and “Million Dollar Quartet” re-imagines the chance recording session of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

Casual dining:
Cornerstone, 228 Main St., Ogunquit | More details in our dining directory

Fine dining:
Barnacle Billy’s, Perkins Cove Road, Ogunquit | More details in our dining directory

After the show:
Five-O, 50 Shore Road, Ogunquit | More details in our dining directory
Piano Bar at the Front Porch, 9 Shore Road, Ogunquit

Hackmatack Playhouse

538 School St., Berwick.
Suggested shows: “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” July 29-Aug. 15; “Ruthless,” Aug. 19-Sept. 5.
Artistic director Crystal Lisbon’s background in dance shows in her first season as Hackmatack’s artistic director, with lively, energetic performances from enthusiastic casts. The setting in a former dairy barn guarantees summer casual. Don’t be surprised to see bison roaming nearby fields.

Casual dining:
Leaven, 44 Market St., Somersworth, New Hampshire |

Fine dining:
Johnson’s, 18 Elm St., (Route 4), North Berwick |
If you arrive at the theater early enough, be sure to leave room for a piece of homemade pie. It goes fast.

After the show:
Uno’s, 238 Indian Brook Road, Dover, New Hampshire |
It’s open late and the cast sometimes goes there.

Deertrees Theatre

156 Deertrees Road, Harrison.
Suggested shows: “Lettice and Lovage,” 7:30 p.m. Friday; Aug. 7, and Aug. 13.
Deertrees is one of the oldest theaters in Maine and one of the best to see a show. It was commissioned as an opera house in the 1936. Made with Hemlock in Adirondack style, the theater resounds with character and woodsy charm. This summer, the theater has re-established the tradition of presenting original theater with a modest schedule.

Casual dining: Ruby Slippers Cafe & Bakery, 103 Norway Road, Harrison, If you’re in a rush, grab something to go from the Good Life Market, 1297 Roosevelt Trail, Raymond, and picnic on the pleasant theater grounds.
Fine dining: Maurice Restaurant, 109 Main St., South Paris
After the show: Olde Mill Tavern, Harrison, 56 Main St., Harrison

Maine State Music Theatre

Pickard Theater, Bowdoin College, 1 Bath Road, Brunswick.
Suggested shows: “The Music Man,” though Aug. 1; “Young Frankenstein,” Aug. 5-22.
Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College campus is a comfortable, modern theater. Maine State makes the best use of it, with large shows that brim with energy, color and light. There’s something all-American appealing about “The Music Man,” while “Young Frankenstein” is always good for a laugh. Parking can be an issue, so allow time.

Casual dining: Sea Dog Brewing Co., 1 Bowdoin Mill Island, Topsham
Fine dining: Henry and Marty, 61 Maine St., Brunswick
After the show: Byrnes Irish Pub, 16 Station Ave., Brunswick

Theater at Monmouth

796 Main St., Monmouth.

Suggested shows: “The Real Inspector Hound” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Aug. 1; “The Winter’s Tale” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Aug. 2.
Cumston Hall, which houses the theater, is one of the great surprises of rural Maine: An architectural gem and historically significant building in an unlikeley place. The hall, with its spire and stained glass, was commissioned in 1899, and listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings in 1976.
It’s a beautiful theater, and an appropriate elegant home for Maine’s official Shakespearean theater. Monmouth presents several shows throughout the season, including different titles on the same day and several over the weekend. The season runs through Aug. 23.

Casual dining: Maranacook Grill, 6 Union St., Winthrop
Fine dining: The Segley Place, 54 Sedgley Road, Greene. Last-minute lobster rolls or ice-cream: Kempville Corner, 756 Main St., Monmouth
After the show: Liberal Cup, Hallowell

Arundel Barn Playhouse

53 Old Post Road, Arundel.
Suggested shows: “La Cage Aux Folles,” Aug. 4-15 or “Beehive: The 60s Musical,” Aug. 18-29.
Another barn-style summer theater, Arundel Barn offers energetic theater on the site of an old family farm. The family-style hospitality is evident in the environment and style of shows.

Casual dining: Arundel Wharf Restaurant, 43 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport
Fine Dining: One Dock Prime Steakhouse at the Kennebunkport Inn, One Dock Square, Kennebunkport
After the show: Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Pub, 8 Western Ave., Kennebunk

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