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Experience Theater in Maine
A History Rooted in Summer
Maine theaters are steeped in a passion for performance that began in the early 1900s. During the summer months, aspiring Broadway performers and producers flocked to theater colonies at lakeside villages and seaside resorts, using the spaces for tryout productions. These places and spaces became the training grounds for promising young talent and productions that went on to be featured on Broadway and in movies and television.
Today’s Summer Theaters
Today, Maine’s theater tradition remains strong. There are several companies — some amateur, some professional — performing during warmer months throughout the state. You’ll find musicals, whodunits and serious dramas, often staged in airy, historic buildings. These productions aren’t reserved for the big city; most are performed on small-town stages. By attending one of these summer performance venues, you’ll be part of continuing a deeply rooted Maine tradition.
Acadia Repertory Theatre, Somesville
This 148-seat intimate performance space showcases a diverse range of shows, from Shakespeare to Neil Simon.
Carousel Music Theatre, Boothbay Harbor
This venue combines comedic performances with a delicious dining experience.
Deertrees Theatre, Harrison
This countryside historic theater showcases a wide range of works along with a cafe to keep you refreshed. They also aim to make the grounds and building fully accessible for those with accessibility needs and those who are hearing impaired.
Hackmatack Playhouse, Berwick
This former farmhouse has an intriguing history (involving two brothers, one of whom decided to saw the house in two) and a just-as-interesting present, with a selection of shows and bison farm on-site.
Lakewood Theatre, Madison
Maine’s oldest theater, this stately building located in the pines and white birch off Wesserunsett Lake has been showing performances for 120 years. It is here that many Broadway musicals premiered, including “Life With Father,” one of the longest running plays on Broadway. Today, it continues to be lovingly restored to maintain the gleaming white facade and updated amenities.
Maine’s long-standing tradition of theater has moved beyond summer, with many professional theater companies performing year-round across the state. Some, like the Maine State Music Theatre, specialize in musicals. Others, like the Theater at Monmouth, are renowned for Shakespeare.
Penobscot Theatre Company, Bangor
The only year-round professional regional theater in northern Maine, this venue has a rich 47-year history that continues today with classic and modern performances, as well as education for children, teens and adults. It owns and operates the historic Bangor Opera House, the last remaining opera house in what was once deemed the “Little Broadway of the North.”
Maine State Music Theatre, Brunswick (seasonal)
Named Theatre of the Decade and numerous other award titles, MSMT was ambitiously opened in the 1950s by founder Victoria Crandall during a time when the field was dominated by men. Since then, it has grown far beyond its mid-coast roots, attracting Broadway and off-Broadway actors and producers to Maine. The extraordinary in-house production team transforms the stage into new and thrilling worlds.
Public Theatre, Lewiston
Voted Maine’s best theatre by Down East Magazine seven years in a row, this theater performs contemporary Broadway plays and more, featuring professional actors from New York to Los Angeles.
Ogunquit Playhouse, Ogunquit
This historic and iconic playhouse has an 89-year legacy of producing world-class performances and new works for the stage. Originally renovated from a garage in 1933, today it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It has grown from a 10-week summer theater to a regional theater producing between five and seven musicals annually.
Theater at Monmouth, Monmouth (seasonal)
Cumston Hall, a National Register-listed building, houses this innovative theater. With its contemporary approach to Shakespeare and other classic plays, you’ll see the classics in a new light. Fifty seasons and more than 350 productions are in its three-month summer repertory season (in addition to fall and spring tours), all aiming to forge modern-day connections with, and appreciation for, great literature.
Good Theater, Portland
Alive with entertainment almost every night of the week, the Good Theater allows you to experience live music, theater, dance, comedy, cabaret, performance art and more.
Portland Stage, Portland
Maine’s largest fully professional, nonprofit theater features a mainstage of seven shows that play to over 50,000 people annually, an experimental studio theater, new works and affiliate artist events.
Mad Horse Theatre Company, South Portland
This intimate 50-seat black box theater has a reputation for innovative interpretations of cutting-edge contemporary plays and dramatic classics.
Outdoor Pop-Up Performances
Some theater companies and artists have gotten extra innovative with how they use a setting, most notably since the COVID-19 pandemic. Abandoning a brick-and-mortar venue altogether, these companies are creating outdoor performances in public spaces. Audience members will enjoy the thrill and surprise of these pop-up performances in 2021:
Ogunquit Playhouse’s Leary Pavilion, Ogunquit
The theater is holding its 2021 season in a covered, open-air performance venue on the south lawn of campus. The pavilion will shield audiences from the sun and rain, but audience members are welcome to bring cushions and blankets to get comfortable for an amazing alfresco show.
The Reach Performing Arts Center, Deer Isle (August 27-29, 2021)
In collaboration with artists Anna Fitzgerald and Marvin Merritt IV and in partnership with Island Heritage Trust, The Reach PAC will stage an outdoor production of “Do Not Move Stones” at the Settlement Quarry on Deer Isle. Learn more about this retelling of Aeschylus’ “The Suppliants” that is described as uproariously funny and moving at the same time.
Portland Ovations, Portland
In addition to a variety of in-theater works, the performance company often showcases pop-up performances at locations from parks to ice rinks.