With the current season winding down, theater companies in southern Maine are looking ahead to summer and fall.

Portland Stage Company and Good Theater are using their current shows to tell theater-goers about fall lineups, and the Ogunquit Playhouse and Maine State Music Theatre are beginning publicity blitzes to entice fans to their theaters this summer.

Ogunquit opens its 80th season on May 23 with “Always, Patsy Cline.” TV star Sally Struthers, who has been a regular at the theater for the past decade, returns to play the role of Louise Segar, who tells the story through letters she exchanged with the country music star. The show is on stage through June 16.

Other titles in the Ogunquit season include “South Pacific,” “Damn Yankees,” “9 to 5: The Musical” and “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”

Most noteworthy in that bunch is “Damn Yankees.” In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, Ogunquit adds a twist to this familiar story. Instead of cheering for the Washington Senators, as he has since “Damn Yankees” opened in 1955, Joe Boyd is a die-hard fan of the Boston Red Sox. Ogunquit has tweaked the show to reflect regional allegiances.

Executive artistic director Bradford Kenney said the theater is going all-out for its 80th season.

“A milestone anniversary deserves a year made up of Broadway’s greatest classics, retrospectives of the playhouse’s biggest hits and a brand-new Broadway musical from one of America’s greatest songwriters, Dolly Parton,” he said in a statement.

Up the coast in Brunswick, Maine State Music Theatre has four of Broadway’s biggest, boldest shows on its schedule: “A Chorus Line,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “42nd Street.” “A Chorus Line” will open the season on June 6 at Pickard Theatre at Bowdoin College. Donna Drake, who played Tricia in the original Broadway production of the show, will direct the Maine State version.

Last week, Portland Stage announced its 39th season. It will open Sept. 25 with Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Sisters Rosensweig” and continue with a new play by Massachusetts playwright William Donnelly, “Homestead Crossing”; the comedy “Greater Tuna”; the Noel Coward drama “A Song at Twilight”; a new play by Maine playwright John Cariani, “Love/Sick”; and David Davalos’ “Wittenberg.”

Cariani will be in Portland in May to work on “Love/Sick” while it is presented at the theater’s Little Festival of the Unexpected, a showcase for new plays.

Last spring, Donnelly presented an early version of “Homestead Crossing” at the Little Festival. It was known then as “Ash.” He made changes based on feedback and performances at the festival, and will debut the show this summer and fall at three New England theaters.

It will open this summer at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., move to Merrimack Rep in Lowell, Mass., in the fall, and then up to Portland for its opening here Oct. 30.

Anita Stewart, Portland Stage artistic and executive director, said the collaboration among the trio of theaters saves money and increases efficiencies. All three theaters will share the cost, and the cast and set will be the same for each show. “It’s a win-win-win for all of us,” she said.

Good Theater closes its 10th season today with the musical comedy “Little Me.” Artistic director Brian Allen is using the occasion to tell audiences that the theater’s 11th season will include the recent Broadway hit “Good People.” The show closed on Broadway last spring, and was nominated for a Tony Award for best play.

“Literally a year and a few months later, it will be seen in Portland,” Allen said.

“Good People” is about a woman from South Boston who didn’t get out and about like her ex-boyfriend, who did. He returns with an African-American wife, and all heck breaks lose.

Denise Poirier, who has appeared in many Good Theater shows over the years, will play the lead role. Frances McDormand played the role on Broadway, and won a Tony for her performance.

The rest of Good Theater’s 2012-13 season includes a holiday-oriented musical, “Striking 12,” opening Nov. 14; a new play called “Death By Design” by Rob Urbinati; theater co-founder Stephen Underwood’s one-man multi-media show “Underwaterguy”; and a return of A.R. Gurney’s “Ancestral Voices,” which Good Theater presented for one week earlier this season. Next season, it will be back for a longer run.

The Underwood piece and “Death By Design” offer the most intrigue. Allen described Urbinati’s script for the latter as “Noel Coward meets Agatha Christie. It’s so funny, with a little bit of murder.”

“Underwaterguy” is still evolving, and will focus on Underwood’s interest in swimming and diving. He has filmed many of his excursions, and written a piece that reflects his interest. He will present it as a one-man show, with high-definition video of his adventures, a narrative script and music.

 Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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