Lyric Music Theater, and most of the rest, will have a laugh in their fall lineup

The fall theatrical season falls into two categories: comedies and everything in between.

There is a school of thought that says that if the audience returns to the theater, they are going to want to come back with the expectation of lightness and laughter. Enough with the heavy stuff. The other school of thought says that, given all that we have been through globally and locally over the past 18 months, the theater is a great place to explore and process our grief and anger in order to find a way forward together. Lifting heavy loads is the obligation of artists.

Both ideas are irrelevant if the audience doesn’t come back. We’ll soon start to get a better idea of ​​audience appetites, as the fall theater season begins again amid great hope and uncertainty, as well as a commitment by the theater community to be more. diverse and inclusive in its casting and programming.

The Lyric Music Theater in South Portland opens its season on September 17 with the solo musical “Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class”, which is part of the “Nunsense” series. It stars Molly Frantzen, who grew up on local stages and spent several years working and auditioning in New York City before returning to Maine during the pandemic. She has never acted in a musical “Nunsense” or taken on the challenge of a solo show, but there is no moment like the present.

“I saw the post of this one-woman show, and I was like, ‘Am I doing this? Is this crazy? ‘ I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’ve been there. I’m dying to take things in hand, ”she said.

This show will go on quickly – 80 minutes without an intermission, fueled by the energy of Frantzen and piano accompaniment by musical director Bob Gauthier. Joshua Chard is directing.

In this show, Sister Robert Anne shares her tips for putting on a cabaret and uses her most loved songs from other “Nunsense” shows in her class. “Before becoming a nun, she had a passion for the stage and wanted to be a star. Once she joined the church, she was always the second violin and never got the lead role, ”said Frantzen, playing her character. “In this show, you come to my Catholic school class to learn how to be a star and to take charge of the stage.”

As the part was originally written, Sister Robert Anne interacts with audience members, but Lyric revises and restores these scenes due to the pandemic. In this version, Sister Robert Anne will not stray from the scene.

Playwright and “Nunsense” creator Danny Goggin consulted Lyric on the changes, including where and how to cut and how to compensate for the lack of interaction. He said theaters across the country are producing various “Nunsense” shows this fall and winter, due to their small casts, straightforward staging and history of box office success.

“Because of this horrible situation, everyone wants comedies. Everyone wants to laugh, ”he said. “The goal when I write these shows has always been to give you two hours to put all your troubles aside so that you can be silly and laugh. Hopefully we can be of help to people who want to start acting again.”

Frantzen, 30, lives in Portland. She graduated from Falmouth High School in 2009 and studied visual arts at Colgate University. She starred in high school and college musicals, and played the role of Maria in “The Sound of Music” at Lyric upon graduation from college. Then she left for Manhattan to “do the New York work”, working in restaurants and auditioning and hoping for a theater break that never came. “I received a few reminders, but nothing very substantial. There were a lot of auditions, ”she said.

The ruthless nature of the audition process has prepared her for anything that comes its way, including the challenge of a solo show.

“I am so happy to be back in Maine. I was in New York for seven years, and every time I came home I didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go back to New York, but I had this painful feeling that I didn’t want to leave, ”she said. “There are so many advantages that outweigh the disadvantages of Manhattan. It’s nice to feel at home and make it my own version of home and not my childhood home.

“Sister Robert Anne’s cabaret class”, 7:30 p.m., Sept. 17-18 and Sept. 24-25, 2:30 p.m. Sept. 19 and 26; $ 19 to $ 23; vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the required 48 hours; lyricmusictheater.org.

In Falmouth, the Footlights Theater opens its ninth season on October 7 with the romantic comedy “I Think I Love You” by Patrick McGrail about an unlikely group of characters reunited in a love triangle. Artistic director Michael Tobin produced it four years ago and sold it out, and thought it would be a good way to start the season. It is until October 23. A drama follows, “The Colors of My Life” by Celia Lewis, from November 4 to 20, about an artist who loses her ability to see colors. Masks are mandatory for moving around the theater, and vaccinated people can remove them when seated. The theater asks unvaccinated people to wear masks at all times. thefootlightsheatre.com.

In South Portland, Mad Horse Theater Company returns with a black comedy, “You Got Older” by Clare Barron, from October 7 to 31. Directed by company member Reba Askari, the show was weeks away from opening in March 2020 when the pandemic struck. This is a woman who is unlucky without a boyfriend or a job when she finds out that her father has cancer. It’s about desire and death and the moments in between. Mad Horse has not announced its COVID-19 protocols. madhorse.com

In Lewiston, the Public theater opens its season with “Middletown”, a fun and heartfelt play about friendship and the importance of long-standing relationships. Written by Dan Clancy, “Middletown” is a play about two couples who have been friends most of their lives and who come together years later to share memories. Vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours required. thepublictheatre.org

Good Theater, in residence at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland, also returns with a comedy – “a comedy of manners,” says artistic director Brian Allen – “Jane Austen’s Lady Susan” by Rob Urbinati, which begins October 20 and runs until ‘in November. 14. This is a new play about a recently widowed young Englishwoman who visits her brother and sister-in-law to help him sort out his affairs. Romanticism ensues. Allen chose the piece because it’s funny and has great costumes. “It was a good way to open the season and bring people back to the theater with something really fun,” he said. Vaccination or proof of negative COVID-19 test required. goodtheater.com.

TO Portland scene, artistic director Anita Stewart has opted for a drama to open the season, “Perseverance” by Brunswick playwright Callie Kimball, from September 29 to October 29. 17. Kimball wrote the play for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, creating a story about two women whose lives intertwine through their work in the same physical space a century apart. On November 3, Portland Stage presents “Searching for Mr. Moon,” a play by Richard Topol and Willy Holtzman that explores the mysteries of parenthood and mortality. Portland Stage has not officially announced its COVID-19 protocols, but Stewart has indicated that it will require vaccinations or proof of a negative COVID-19 test, with a few exceptions; portlandstage.org.

In Freeport, Snowlion Directory Company will christen the new Meetinghouse Arts stage, operated by the Freeport Arts and Culture Alliance, with the premiere of “My Witch: Margaret Hamilton’s Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond” by John Ahlin, October 29-31 . The 80-minute solo piece with Jean Tafler chronicles the life and times of the “Wizard of Oz” actress who settled in Maine, directed by Al D’Andrea of ​​Snowlion. Snowlion has not announced its COVID-19 protocols. snowlionrep.org.


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