Theatrical happenings rule southern Maine’s performing arts calendar this week, with three splendid shows beckoning.

A local production of the longest-running play in history opened last weekend at Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. Don’t miss this superior community production of “The Mousetrap.”

Many decades of musical theater provide the unifying theme for this weekend’s pair of Pops! concerts by the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

For February 13-14, Portland Ovations has booked a national touring production of “Legally Blonde,” a wonderful romantic musical comedy.

‘The Mousetrap’

On Nov. 25, 1952, a new play opened in London’s West End. Dame Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” was a whodunit based on a real-life story that had been in the papers seven years earlier.

Christie expected success, but predicted that her play would close in less than a year. At present, “The Mousetrap” is still running. It has surpassed 27,000 performances and holds the world record for longest-running play.

In England, only the current (original) production is allowed, but in the U.S. the rights are licensed to many companies. Most recently in southern Maine, Lyric Music Theater mounted a superb community production that runs through Feb. 17.

Here’s the situation: Eight people are trapped in a musty old English manor during a howling blizzard. Communication with the outside world is cut off. Among the eight, one is a murderer and two are intended victims. And one gets knocked off to end the first act.

We learn that each of the remaining seven has had an opportunity to kill, and each has clearly got something to hide.

Who done it? Before exiting the theater, audience members are asked to keep the secret – part of Christie’s original script.

Director John Blanchette gets excellent performances from all eight of his actors, with my nod for best going to Heather Irish in the central role of a newbie innkeeper who has some dark secrets.

Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland, presents “The Mousetrap” through Feb. 17, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Call 799-1421.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

Broadway musicals from the 1930s to the 21st century provide the content for the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming Pops! concerts this weekend.

Titled “Broadway Romance,” the two concerts will be conducted by guest maestro Ted Sperling, who boasts a substantial resume in musical theater. Two guest singers will also be featured: Betsy Wolfe, who recently starred in the Tony Award-nominated “Waitress,” and Santino Fontana, who received a Tony nomination for his performance in “Cinderella.”

Maestro Sperling’s selections run quite a gamut. Time-wise they begin with two songs by George and Ira Gershwin, the toasts of Broadway in the 1930s. Most of Sperling’s 21 songs date from the golden age of Broadway, and include numbers by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, Frank Loesser and Irving Berlin. Newer numbers come from the 21st century and include songs by Adam Guettel and the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Catch “Broadway Romance” at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall, with performances Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 10 at 2:30 p.m. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

‘Legally Blonde’

Uberblonde, dumb and ditzy: That’s a classic comic stereotype that’s long been the stock-in-trade of scriptwriters.

On Feb. 13-14, Portland Ovations is hosting a touring production of “Legally Blonde,” a romantic musical comedy that turns this notion on its head. According to writers Amanda Brown (original novel) and Heather Hach (Broadway script) it’s possible to be both uberblonde and the smartest, most focused person in the courtroom.

The heroine is Elle Woods, a very blonde California sorority girl, majoring in fashion marketing, who switches academic gears and heads to Harvard Law School in pursuit of her love interest, an obnoxiously self-absorbed handsome hunk.

The law school experience is an eye-opener for the California blond beauty, and she discovers herself in both classroom and courtroom. She also discovers that her loyalty to her sorority sisters and her naive personal values trump the sophistry and compromised values of the American legal system as well as the professors and top students of the nation’s most celebrated law school.

There’s a wonderful courtroom scene in a celebrity murder case, with a Perry Mason-style revelation that’s orchestrated by Elle and a cohort.

And Elle’s romantic pursuit? Here too, there’s a nice surprise ending, orchestrated by Elle.

I’ve seen “Legally Blonde” several times and I’m already reserving my tickets for this one.

Portland Ovations presents “Legally Blonde” at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall Feb. 13-14 at 7:30 p.m. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

“The Mousetrap” is the longest-running play in history, approaching 28,000 performances in London’s West End. Lyric Music Theater is running a fine community production of Agatha Christie’s whodunit masterpiece through Feb. 17.

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