BRUNSWICK — When Maine State Music Theatre opened “Chamberlain: A Civil War Romance” 18 years ago, it attained legendary status in the history of summer theater in Maine.

So high was anticipation that the original musical about Joshua Chamberlain, Brunswick’s very own Civil War hero, sold out the entire run before the first performance.

The only problem, it wasn’t very good. The commercial success of “Chamberlain” belied its artistic lapses. The musical felt stiff and clunky.

Through July 12, Maine State Music Theater gives “Chamberlain” another ride. Maine State presents its shows at Pickard Theater in a building on the Bowdoin College campus that Chamberlain himself helped design and build.

“I love the fact that this is about people who believe they make a difference in the world and their very existence is going to change the existence of humanity. And this man does. From a very young age, he feels he is capable of moving mountains,” said director Marc Robin.

“I can relate to this guy. I do not believe in problems. I believe in solutions.”

Before Robin or Maine State Artistic Director Curt Dale Clark committed to a revival, they approached the creators about a rewrite. They wanted a tighter, more cohesive show.

Chamberlain was a Civil War hero, a Maine governor and leader of men, whose story has been told in books and movies. His home in Brunswick is among the most-visited tourist attractions in town.

Robin and Clark knew the eyes of Brunswick, Civil War buffs, local historians, the statewide theater community and even New York might be on them. If things go well, it’s reasonable to assume that “Chamberlain” could be presented in other communities with Civil War legacies and perhaps on Broadway.

Chamberlain, the man, has much higher profile today than he did 18 years ago. His real-life story is layered with courage, heroism and accomplishment, as well as an enduring romance complicated by Chamberlain’s public persona and his wife’s strong backbone.

“The hardest part of doing this play is the community wants it and the community knows it,” Robin said. “Ever since I started working here as an actor several years ago, all I heard was ‘Chamberlain, Chamberlain, Chamberlain.’ The community wants their man honored.”

Chamberlain has attained mythical stature in Brunswick. Although he was born in Brewer, Brunswick claims Chamberlain as its own. He came to Brunswick to enroll at Bowdoin College in 1848 and later took a teaching position with the college. He gave that up to serve the Union in the Civil War and achieved the rank of colonel. He led the 20th Maine Regiment in the Battle of Gettysburg and performed heroically in the defense of Little Round Top, for which he was awarded a Medal of Honor. The original medal is on view at the Chamberlain Museum in town.

He presided over the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox, after which he returned to Maine and was twice elected governor in landslides. He also became president of Bowdoin.

People who saw the original “Chamberlain,” directed by the theater’s previous artistic director Charles Abbott, will recognize the new version, but it is fully re-staged and re-imagined, Robin said. Writers Steven M. Alper and Sarah Knapp presented Maine State with a revised script and score and traveled in April to the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Robin works as artistic director. After a staged reading there, Alper and Knapp made more revisions.

“Mark has a different style than Chuck Abbott had, and we have accommodated his style mainly in transitions and the way the show flows,” Knapp said. “There’s more flow from scene to scene, and we did some resequencing of scenes.”

Alper clearly remembers Abbott’s pitch.

“He approached us and said, ‘Let’s go to the movies.’ He took us to see ‘Gettysburg,’ which had just come out.”

Neither Alper nor Knapp, who are married, knew anything about Chamberlain at the time.

They did their research and quickly realized Abbott’s vision. Chamberlain was a perfect character to build an epic story around. He was revered at home and nationally for his war-time heroics. He also had a complicated but deep and abiding love with his wife, Fanny.

Alper and Knapp framed their story around the romance.

“Fanny was not typical in any way, shape or form,” said Knapp, who played Fanny on stage in the original production. “She was incredibly intelligent and also very difficult. She was very independent and ahead of her time in so many ways.”

The marriage was difficult. Fanny did not like being separated from her husband and did not appreciate her public role as a hero’s wife. She whispered of a possible divorce, which in the late 1800s was unusual and scandalous.

“It was not smooth sailing for these two,” Knapp said. “But they were passionately in love, and I think that is clear in their love letters.”

This time around, Kathy Voytko will play Fanny. She believes historians have given Fanny “a bum rap.”

“If it was the same woman today, she would be considered a smart woman,” she said. “Back then, she was seen as selfish. But there was a lot of good in Fanny, and there’s no question that Chamberlain loved her. He stayed with her. If she was that awful, he could have left.”

James Patterson plays Chamberlain. To prepare for the role, Patterson read books and watched “Gettysburg.” He has chatted up historians in town. When he visited the Chamberlain Museum, he asked docents about the man and his mannerisms.

He even grew a big mustache, which resembles Chamberlain’s famous facial hair.

He called Chamberlain “the knight of the Civil War. We like to believe in people like Chamberlain. People need to believe that there are people still like him these days.”

Chamberlain led by example. He volunteered for service and ascended the ranks quickly. He performed well under pressure and, after achieving victory on the battlefield, returned home to his wife and family. He conducted himself with honor, honored his commitments and was steadfast in his beliefs, Patterson said.

Both actors have Broadway experience.

The musical tells Chamberlain’s life story. And while it falls short of serving as a true biography because of its incomplete nature, the musical is historically accurate. It begins with Chamberlain’s courtship of Fanny in Brunswick and includes battle scenes.

The story is told with lush, poetic and operatic music, in a sweeping, contemporary style.

Robin’s direction will focus on what he calls “the cinematic quality” of Chamberlain’s life. The director focuses on Chamberlain’s courage, honor and humility, which are qualities that people look for in their heroes today, he said.