January 20, 2013

Theater lineup ranges from somber to silly, from tried-and-true to new

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The winter theater season is full of mystery and intrigue, with ample doses of drama and humor mixed in.

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Jake Cote and Evan Dalzell star in Mad Horse Theatre Company’s production of “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.”

Craig Robinson photo

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The cast of the Theater Project Professional Ensemble’s “Winter Cabaret,” which centers on a 1990s boy band getting together again for a reunion show.

Heather Perry photo

Additional Photos Below

Here are a few clues:

The Public Theatre in Lewiston presents the Maine premiere of "The Hound of Baskervilles," a Sherlock Holmes spoof that takes its cue from "The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shksp (Abridged)." Imagine Monty Python meets the Marx Brothers, says director Janet Mitchko. "Theater doesn't come much sillier than this," she said in a press release.

The play stars Michael Frederic and Dan Matisa, both of whom appeared in "Around the World in 80 Days" at The Public Theatre last year. Each portrays multiple characters. Also appearing is J.T. O'Connor, who has appeared several times at the Public Theatre, as well.

The comedy opens Friday and runs through Feb. 3, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Feb. 2. Tickets cost $18 for adults, $5 for ages 18 and younger. Call 782-3200 or visit thepublictheatre.org.

•  Mad Horse Theatre Company also has a Maine premiere with Rajiv Joseph's "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo." The show is up now at the theater's new performance space at the former Hutchins School, 24 Mosher St., South Portland, with performances through Feb. 3.

A 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist, this drama brings two American soldiers, an Iraqi translator, a brooding tiger and a bunch of spirits together in war-torn Iraq as they try to find meaning, forgiveness and redemption among the city's ruins, said director Nathan Speckman.

"I immediately fell in love with the play when I first read it," he said in a press release. "It is incredibly well-written, and I think the message it conveys is tragically beautiful."

Mad Horse members Tootie Van Reenan and Brent Askari are joined by guest artists Mark Rubin, Jake Cote, Evan Dalzell, Reba Short and Allison McCall.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with a talk-back following the matinee performance Jan. 27. Tickets cost $20, $15 for seniors and students. Mad Horse also offers pay-what-you-can performances each Thursday; madhorse.com or 730-2389.

•  Good Theater presents the East Coast premiere of a new play, "Death by Design," described by playwright Rob Urbinati as a cross between Noel Coward and Agatha Christie. The play has been staged only once before, in Houston, and is headed to an Off-Broadway theater in New York next year.

It opens Jan. 30 and runs through Feb. 24 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. Urbinati will be in residence for the opening and will offer two talk-back sessions, on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 following each performance.

"Death by Design" stars Rob Cameron, Abigail Killeen, Matthew Delamater, Janice Gardner, Paul Haley, Kat Moraros, Susan Reilly and Benjamin Row. Good Theater artistic director Brian Allen directs.

The play is set in the English country home of Edward, a playwright, and Sorel, an actress. Several guests arrive, and when a murder is committed, the maid must solve the crime.

Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, with an added performance at 3 p.m. Feb. 16. There is no performance Feb. 13. Tickets cost $15 to $25; 885-5883 or goodtheater.com.

Looking ahead to later this winter, Good Theater will host the New England premiere of Amy Herzon's Obie Award-winning "4000 Miles," starring Broadway veteran Alma Cuervo and Erik Moody. The show will run March 6-30 at St. Lawrence.

The American Irish Repertory Theater offers up the comedy "A Couple of Blaguards," written by brothers Frank and Malachy McCourt, March 21-April 7 at the Studio Theater at Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland. The romp includes songs and a dance or two, as the authors Frank McCourt and his brother Malachy share memories of their childhood in Limerick and their experiences coming to America. Paul Haley and Tony Reilly play the brothers McCourt.

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Additional Photos

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Looking for a clue in The Public Theatre’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” are J.T. O’Connor as Watson, Michael Frederic as Holmes and Dan Matisa as Sir Henry Baskerville.

Courtesy of The Public Theatre

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Dixie Weisman as the jealous wife of author Franklin Woolsey, played by Dwight Burris, in Heartwood Regional Theater Company’s one-act “Ghost-Writer.”

Courtesy of Heartwood Regional Theater Company


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