Morgan Gavaletz Lamontagne and Benn May play a bride and groom quarreling on their wedding day in John Cariani’s “Love/Sick,” a quirky romantic comedy playing through Sunday at Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. Mary Meserve

With Saint Valentine’s Day coming up this Friday, you might consider inviting your beloved to Lyric Music Theater for a performance of its current production of “Love/Sick,” Maine playwright John Cariani’s wildly funny and very offbeat collection of romantic dramatic micro-plays. The show runs through Sunday in South Portland.

Virtuoso lutenist Timothy Burris, one of Maine’s principal proponents and performers of early classical music, has scheduled an evening of songs that were originally written for accompaniment of other instruments and transcribed for his own. That happens on Saturday in Portland.

The Rasa String Quartet, recently formed at the New England Conservatory, plans a visit to Portland on Feb. 20. Like so many very young string quartets, they’re seeking ways to make classical music attractive and relevant to younger audiences.


With Maine’s statehood bicentennial coming up, let me suggest that one way of honoring our state is to recognize some of our current cultural treasures. Among American playwrights, none stands taller than John Cariani, who grew up in Aroostook County. Among his plays are two that have become national cultural phenomena.

Cariani is best known for “Almost, Maine,” which premiered in Portland in 2004 and has since become one this country’s most frequently produced plays at all levels, from professional to high school.

The second is 2012’s “Love/Sick,” which closely follows the “Almost” formula: a collection of nine two-actor vignettes based on love and loss – and the sometimes unexpected and comic consequences of both. I’ve seen “Almost” quite a few times, but last weekend was my very happy introduction to “Love/Sick.”


“Love/Sick” opens and closes in a local Super Center, and the other seven micro-plays all have some very tenuous connection to the big box. Two of the scenes involve same-sex couples, while the remainder are man-woman confrontations, sometimes between random couples and sometimes married partners. Every single one of the nine is full of unexpected twists and turns and belly laughs galore.

Director Janie Downey Maxwell has assembled a fine community cast of five men and five women. She gets excellent performances from each.

If you’re into quirky comedy and offbeat date nights, you simply can’t do better than “Love/Sick.”

Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland, presents “Love/Sick” through Feb. 16 with 7:30 p.m. performances Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 799-1421.

Timothy Burris

Another Maine cultural treasure is Timothy Burris, virtuoso lutenist and professor of music at several Maine schools. Trained in Europe, where he also taught for several years, Burris holds a Ph.D. in music from Duke University.

He is the founder and former music director of the Portland Early Music Festival, held at the Portland Conservatory of Music.


This Saturday Burris is hosting a concert in his long-running series at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. It’s titled “By Arrangement” and comprises adaptations of songs by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert and Benjamin Britten.

Most of the songs were written for keyboard accompaniment, which has been adapted for lute or guitar. Each of the program’s three sections is introduced by a mood-setting song by Henry Purcell. Jennifer Bates will perform the vocals, accompanied by Burris on lute and guitar.

The concert is slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 15 at St. Luke’s Cathedral, 143 State St. in Portland. Visit for details.

Rasa String Quartet

Engaging and energizing younger audiences in classical music is the proverbial holy grail of many 21st-century professional musicians, and a variety of approaches are used. Nearly every classical group in Maine, from the Portland Symphony Orchestra to the Portland Bach Experience, has a program.

A visiting group is at the forefront of the movement. The Rasa String Quartet, one of America’s most recently formed classical ensembles, performs in Portland on Feb. 20.

Formed last year in Boston at the New England Conservatory, Rasa exhibits several trends. For starters, the four represent the growing diversity of professional classical musicians. The lineup comprises Irish-American violinist Maura Shawn Scanlin, Japanese-American violinist Kiyoshi Hayashi, Spanish-Vietnamese violist Claudia Do Minh Ramos and Korean-American cellist Eunghee Cho. They’re all in their early 20s.

One way of reaching new audiences is to play venues not normally associated with classical music. For Portland, Rasa will visit One Longfellow Square, the city’s most intimate music room. And Rasa mixes up the repertoire, interpolating works based on folk songs from many cultures into the standard canon.

Catch the Rasa String Quartet at 8 p.m. Feb. 20 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

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