Looking to 2019, I'm thrilled to report that Sean Mewshaw returns to SPACE with the Sam Shepard classic of dueling brothers, True West (January 24-February 9). Featuring a 1970s kitchen set that doubles as an installation, actors will perform the show in the front windows of the Annex, for audiences both inside and out.
More fun for actors comes with Dramatic Rep’s next show, Fabuloso (March 8-17) by John Kolvenbach. It’s about two couples, one "ordinary” and the other kooky — but why give only two actors the fun of playing crazy? DRC’s production has them (Peter Brown and Christopher Holt) trading roles on alternate productions throughout the run. Later in the season brings Annie Baker’s acclaimed The Flick (May 31-June 9), about three lonely people working in one of the last film movie theaters, a relic of a dying medium.
It’s an ungulate that’s dying in Mad Horse’s black comedy Deer (January 10-27). Later, the company brings Aaron Posner’s riff on Uncle Vanya, aptly called Life Sucks. (March 14-31) — and, in the spring, a comic strip artist contending with grief in Olivia Dufault's The Tomb of King Tot (May 9-26).
Grief and ghosts are the subjects of Monica Wood’s new play, The Half-Light (February 26-March 24), which runs at Portland Stage after its 2019 opener The Importance of Being Earnest (January 22-February 17). Later, PSC goes to Recession-era Detroit, with Dominique Morisseau's 2017 powerhouse play Skeleton Crew (April 2-21), then mounts an unusual regular-season musical, The Last Five Years (April 30-May 19), which skips back and forth in time in the life of an affair.
The Good Theater also mounts an uncharacteristic musical, Lynn Ahrens' murder-mystery comedy Lucky Stiff (March 27-April 28) after starting the year with Act of God (January 16-February 10), in which the deity, played by Laura Hauck, explains a few things. Good Theater also brings back Love, Loss, and What I Wore (January 19-February 9), plus the recent sequel to Ibsen, A Doll’s House 2 (February 20-March 17) in rep with a show about men and body (i.e., phallus) image, Martin Casella's The Irish Curse (February 23-March 16).
More shows contending with gender come from Cast Aside Productions, which has pledged to cast 100 percent female-identifying, gender fluid, and transgender casts in the sexually-charged musicals Once Upon A Mattress (April 18-27), Cabaret (August 15-31), and Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical (November 7-16).
Stage Rage also revamps some classics in exploration of gender: A new working of Phaedra called Waking Nightmare goes up April 25-28; and a summer devised work, We, Lilith, combines the stories of femme and non-binary actors with that of Adam’s first wife.
More original work comes from 60 Grit on opioid addiction in The Closed Door (February 14-24); and Acorn Productions’ Maine Playwrights Festival returns new plays April 25-May 4. Acorn also brings back its 24-hour theater project, now called The Void (January 12-13); and stages a devised Pericles (March 28 to 31).
An IVF procedure collides with partisan America at the Public Theatre in Human Error (January 25-Feb 3), before A Doll’s House Part 2 (March 15-24) and the late-life romance of Fireflies (May 3-12).
Some classics: The Peter Pan prequel, Peter and the Starcatcher (February 1-17), opens at the Theater Project in Brunswick, followed by Inherit the Wind (March 15-31), the 1955 play written to contextualize the McCarthy trials; and Portland Players mounts Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (January 25-February 10), then Camelot (March 22-April 7) and Guys and Dolls (May 17-June 2).
More musicals: Lyric Music Theatre stages The Bridges of Madison County (March 29-April 14) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (June 7-23), after opening with The Mousetrap (February 1-17). At Biddeford City Theater, it’s Light in the Piazza (March 8-24), Calendar Girls (May 10-26), and The Drowsy Chaperone (July 19-August 4); and the Footlights at Falmouth stages a comic opera based on Poe, Some Words with a Mummy (April 4-20), after a show about Alzheimer’s, The Memory Box (March 7-23) and before the funeral comedy Bless Your Heart (May 2-18). At USM we’ll see a baroque-pop mash-up called Unlock’d (March 1-10), then the comedy The Foreigner (April 19-28); and Snowlion Repertory mounts Mesmerized (May 3-12), about the infamous hypnotist. And Maine State Music Theatre brings us Ellington in Sophisticated Ladies (June 5-22), plus Treasure Island (June 26-July 13), Hello, Dolly! (July 17-August 3), and The Wizard of Oz (August 7-24).
In a summer themed “What Dreams May Come,” the Theater at Monmouth’s lineup includes Lynn Nottage’s superb Intimate Apparel, as well as Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and the musical Murder for Two. Deertrees Theatre, meanwhile, spends its summer with Yasmina Rea’s barbed Art, the sea adventures of Shipwrecked, and a psychic’s love story, Fortune.
For the puppet-inclined, Mayo Street Arts presents the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (February 15-16) and King Friday’s Dungeon Puppet Slam (May 24-25), plus the clowning of Avner the Eccentric (February 22 and 23) and a Tophat Miniature Production of Jesus Christ Superstar (April 20).
Finally, the terrific kids at the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine will regale their peers with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (December 26-January 6), The Three Little Pigs (February 15-March 3), and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit (April 11-28). Happy new year!