After much anticipation, live theater is back and theater companies are enticing audiences with great deals and world premieres.

Mad Horse Theatre Company, 24 Mosher St., South Portland, presents the dark comedy “You Got Older” through Oct. 31, and audience members get to set their own ticket price. Mad Horse has designated the entire season “pay what you decide.” For every show, each person who attends decides how much it’s worth. The theater asks people to make a no-cost reservation, come see the show and then decide how much to pay as they leave the theater. The goal is to remove the financial barrier of seeing live theater and opening it to anyone.

Allison McCall and David Timm in a scene from “You Got Older.” Courtesy of Mad Horse Theatre Company

Written by Clare Barron and directed by Mad Horse company member Reba Askari, “You Got Older” deals with themes of death and dying and includes explicit sexual content, as it tells the story of Mae, who loses both a boyfriend and her job, and then her father becomes sick with cancer. The New Yorker described it as “a hilarious and painfully affecting blend of oddball dialogue, beautifully observed family dynamics, and a preoccupation with the weird ways of the body.”

The cast includes company member Allison McCall and guest artists Whip Hubley, Morgan Fanning, Benn May, Lauren Stockless, Jeff Ruel and David Jon Timm.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. All shows will be performed without an intermission on a pay-what-you-decide basis. No-charge reservations are strongly suggested at madhorse.com. Mad Horse is requiring masks for all audience members and vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test from within the previous 48 hours or a negative rapid test from the previous 12 hours.

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Brynn Lewallen as Lady Susan, Jay Mack as Reginald and Halsey Redman as Frederica in Good Theater’s production of “Jane Austen’s Lady Susan” by Rob Urbinati, directed by Brian P. Allen and James Noel Hoban. Photo by Stephen Underwood, courtesy of Good Theater

At the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland, Good Theater presents the premiere of Rob Urbinati’s “Jane Austen’s Lady Susan,” which director Brian Allen describes as charming and delightful comedy about manners, from Wednesday through Nov. 14. It’s filled with lush period costumes and is set on a grand stage with a cast of seven.

Urbinati is a longtime friend of Good Theater, and the season-opening “Lady Susan” is one of two new plays by Urbinati that the theater will produce this season. The other is “Our Boy” in February. Good Theater also premiered his play “Mama’s Boy” about Lee Harvey Oswald and his mother, Marguerite, in 2015.

“Lady Susan” is Urbinati’s adaptation of Austen’s short story of the same name, about a recent English widow who visits her brother and sister-in-law at their country estate with little advance notice. Romance and such ensues.

“He really embodied Oscar Wilde as much as Jane Austen as he wrote the piece,” Allen said of the playwright. “It has as much to do with ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ These characters, some of them say the most outlandish things. It’s a romp.”

Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, through Nov. 14. Tickets cost $27 and $34; purchase at goodtheater.com. Good Theater requires proof of vaccination to enter the theater, and everyone is required to wear a mask during the performance.

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In Freeport, Snowlion Repertory Company helps christen the new performance space at Meetinghouse Arts with the premiere of “My Witch: Margaret Hamilton’s Stories of Maine, Hollywood, and Beyond!” Oct. 29-31. It tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” actress Margaret Hamilton, who spent much of her life in Maine. “My Witch” takes place in Hamilton’s cabin on an island off Southport, which she purchased in the early 1960s.

Jean Tafler as Margaret Hamilton in “My Witch.” Photo by John Ahlin, courtesy of Snowlion Rep

Written by John Ahlin, starring Jean Tafler and directed by Al D’Andrea, the one-woman show explores Hamilton’s life as a single mother in Hollywood, her career in movies and her distinctive nose. Her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West opposite Judy Garland marked her life and career, and this play puts that role in perspective. The play is set in the spring of an unspecified year, when Hamilton arrives to open her island home for the season. Dressed for her chores in a plaid shirt, denim skirt and kerchief, Hamilton relates much of her story, bringing the cottage to life as she does.

Snowlion presented an early version of the play as a fundraiser in Portland, and it has had one other iteration at another theater in New York. The play has evolved, and the version presented in Freeport in late October will be the fully staged premiere. “We’ve tried to make the stakes higher for Maggie, and dramaticized it a bit. We’ve leaned a little more into the supernatural – just a bit,” said Tafler.

It has been said there has been little written about Hamilton because she lived a scandal-free life, Ahlin said. While that is true, it is also true that she overcame many barriers to achieve success. She got divorced in 1938, a year before the filming of “The Wizard of Oz,” and as a single mother in Hollywood was often ostracized. She also had to overcome people’s perception of her appearance, because of her large and distinct nose, and the play deals with how Hollywood typecasts women based on their looks.

Tofler uses a new prosthetic nose for each performance. “Her nose made her unique and she embraced it,” Tofler said. “Nobody looked like her. She was distinctive, and she recognized that as an asset in Hollywood. If she had gotten a nose job, she would have been just another actress who looked like everyone else.”

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30 and 3 p.m. Oct. 31 at Meetinghouse Arts, 40 Main St., Freeport; $23; snowlionrep.org. Snowlion will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend performances, with masks required.


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