Steve Underwood, left and Brian P. Allen of Good Theater at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland on Aug. 28. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Brian Allen and his partner, Steve Underwood, started Good Theater in Portland without any expectations other than to stage interesting shows using Maine-based actors and crew members.

“When we founded it, we said, ‘Oh maybe we’ll do it for five or six years,’” Allen said, chuckling. “But here we are celebrating our 20th season. We’ve been very lucky.”

“The reason we named it Good Theater,” Underwood added, “is we just wanted to present something that feels good. And our audiences have responded. They have been remarkably loyal, even through a pandemic.”

Good Theater, which performs at St. Lawrence Arts Center on Munjoy Hill, opens its fall season with “Lifespan of a Fact,” a timely comedy that explores the idea of truth in an age where information can be overwhelming and easily manipulated.

The play, written by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell, centers on an ambitious young fact-checker at a magazine who must vet a controversial but groundbreaking essay, and the magazine editor who has to navigate their disagreements.

It premiered on Broadway in 2018 and starred Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame (as the fact-checker) alongside New York theater heavyweights Bobby Cannavale and Cherry Jones.


Allen, the artistic director at Good Theater, said the show strikes a delicate balance between straight entertainment and tackling something topical.

“Often when you do issue plays, you’re preaching to the choir,” he said. “We don’t want to bog people down with issue after issue, but sometimes there are entertaining ways to do that. ‘Lifespan’ … it’s not a political play, but it speaks to some things that are going on. And it’s still a comedy.”

The show runs from Oct. 5-30 and will be followed by the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Carousel” (Nov. 9 to Dec. 4).

“I think the shows you pick for a season should fit together in a way that creates an arc,” Underwood said. “We want to give people a satisfying theatrical meal. That said, we’ve been skewing more toward comedy because the world is so tough right now.”

As for the future of Good Theater, Allen said there is no question things look different coming out of the pandemic. One thing the company is doing is requiring masks for patrons for two shows (one evening and one matinee) per week. For the other shows, masks will be optional.

“I do think there is some evaluation going on about what the next steps are for theater companies,” Allen said. “I’m not sure we’ll see (audience) numbers that will match pre-pandemic numbers.


“But Portland is such a great theater town. I’m so glad we’ve been a part of it for 20 years.”

Ticket information and a full schedule of shows can be found online at

Emma Mayberry as Penny (seated) and Allison McCall as Mary Anne during a rehearsal for “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” which runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 23 at Mad Horse Theatre in South Portland. Photo by Whitney Brown, courtesy of Mad Horse Theatre

If Good Theater’s mission is to keep things mostly light for audiences, Mad Horse Theatre Company in South Portland has a slightly different aim.

The first two shows of the 2022-23 season – the company’s 37th – are “When We Were Young and Unafraid” by Sarah Treem (Sept. 29 to Oct. 23), an exploration of domestic violence and feminism in the pre-Roe v. Wade era, and “Straight White Men,” by Young Jean Lee (Nov. 17 to Dec. 11), a commentary on identity and privilege told through a family that has come together during the holidays.

“We’re pretty excited by what these shows have to say and offer in terms of thought-provoking theater,” said Janice Gardner, executive director at Mad Horse. “If there is a theme, it might revolve around the bodies we inhabit, in different time periods, and what that means and how it’s interpreted.”

The first show is especially relevant, Gardner said, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned a half-century of women having the right to terminate a pregnancy.


“We sort of saw that decision coming when we chose this play,” she said. “If there was ever a time to do it, this was it.”

Gardner said the show’s director, Whitney Brown, referred to “When We Were Young and Unafraid” as a sort of time capsule, but also a reminder that the spirit of feminism is something to keep passing along to the next generation. Treem, the playwright, has written for the TV series “In Treatment” and “House of Cards” and was a co-creator of “The Affair.”

Gardner said Mad Horse’s artistic director, Mark Rubin, saw “Straight White Men” on Broadway, where it premiered in 2018, and was moved. Although the play focuses on a father and three sons, the playwright, Lee, is an Asian American woman and the first to have a play produced on Broadway.

“What’s really interesting about this play,” Gardner said, “is the two additional characters, who are called ‘the people in charge.’ They are non-binary characters, and they help frame this story for the audience.”

Gardner said Mad Horse’s theater, the former Hutchins School on Mosher Street, is an intimate venue and perfect for these types of shows.

“Our audiences come to Mad Horse knowing it’s not a traditional theater experience,” she said. “They don’t get to sit back and enjoy a show from a distance. In turn, the work we pick, we pick because we’re passionate about it, because it has something to say that might be new and different.”


Mad Horse also has now gone entirely to a “pay what you decide” model. Anyone who wants to attend a show must make a reservation. Once the show is over, patrons can make a payment in whatever amount they want as they leave.

“It’s not about devaluing the work we do in any way,” Gardner said. “It allows our audience to become active supporters of what we do.”

More information on the new policy and the 2022-23 season is available at

Ray Yamamoto as Manford Lum in a recent production of “The Great Leap” at Hangar Theater in Ithaca, N.Y. The same show, with the same cast and crew, is coming to Portland Stage for a run of performances in September and October. Photo by Rachel Philipson, courtesy of Portland Stage

Portland Stage, one of the area’s longest running and largest professional theater companies, has two mainstage shows this fall.

“The Great Leap,” written by Lauren Yee, will be staged from Sept. 14 to Oct. 2 at the company’s theater in downtown Portland, in collaboration with New York’s Hangar Theater.

The same cast and production crew, including Portland Stage’s Anita Stewart as set designer and Myles Hatch as stage manager, presented “The Great Leap” at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York, last month.


“Every once in a while we do a collaboration like this,” said Stewart, who is also artistic director at Portland Stage. “It can be really hard to time it out because there are a lot of moving parts, but it’s a fabulous thing when it works out. It gives the artists an opportunity to grow with a piece.”

The play tells the story of Manford Lum, a playground basketball legend in San Francisco’s Chinatown who joins an American college team traveling to Beijing for a cross-cultural “friendship” game. Lum’s story is set in the late 1980s, in post-cultural revolution China, and was inspired by Yee’s father, who like Lum was a hoops star who played on an American team during an exhibition series in China.

Written in 2018, the play has been on several regional stages, including Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre in 2019-20.

The production is directed by Natsu Onoda Power, who is a theater professor at Georgetown University and artistic director of the college’s Davis Performing Arts Center. A review of the show in New York was overwhelmingly positive.

“Culture-clash humor mixes with generational and international divides, all of this driven by an aspirational sports story that just happens to reach deep into the scars, secrets and hopes of immigrant lives,” critic Ross Haarstad wrote on

Stewart said “The Great Leap” has fast become one of her favorite plays.


“I adore the characters,” she said. “It’s hysterical and irreverent but has these moments of true heart in it as well.”

Later this fall, Portland Stage will present “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure” (Oct. 26 to Nov. 13), written by Steven Dietz and adapted from the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The play follows Holmes and Watson as they try to solve one final case that involves a famous opera singer, Irene Adler, and Holmes’ longtime adversary, Professor James Moriarty.

Directing that production is Kevin R. Free, artistic director of Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Stewart said some actors in a previous production had mentioned the play, which led Portland Stage’s artistic team to review it for consideration.

“People really liked this play a lot,” she said. “It’s not a sendup of Holmes, it’s the real deal. And it’s beautifully written.”


Portland Stage was in the process last week of casting “Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure.” Four of the eight parts will go to local actors, who will share the stage with professional equity performers.

More information about Portland Stage’s upcoming season is available at

From left, Kevin Jackson as Ollie, Amy Tribbey as Abigail, and Kurt Zischke as Angus in rehearsal for “Morning After Grace,” which will be showing at The Public Theatre in Lewiston from Sept. 16-25. Photo courtesy of The Public Theatre

The Public Theatre in Lewiston will begin its 32nd season with a show aimed squarely at Baby Boomers, a generation in abundant supply in the aging state of Maine.

“Morning after Grace,” a comedy by New York playwright Carey Crim, is set in a Florida retirement village and follows residents Abigail and Angus, who flirt at a funeral and wake up together the next morning. The leads are played by Amy Tribbey and Kurt Zischke, respectively, each of whom has Broadway and off-Broadway credits.

“When we first read ‘Morning After Grace,’ we laughed, we cried and we knew it would be the perfect fit for our audience,” Public Theatre co-artistic director Janet Mitchko said. “It’s a refreshingly honest comedy for grown-ups, tackling real life issues like love, loss, sex, marriage, growing older, caring for aging parents and even medical marijuana munchies in a way that is both very, very funny and moving – and we have assembled a fabulous cast of veteran Broadway actors to bring this great play to life.”

The show runs from Sept. 16 to 25.


Also this fall, The Public Theatre will show the Manhattan Short Film Festival on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. It features 10 short films and audience members are asked to vote for their favorites.

And from Nov. 4-13, the theater will bring the regional premiere of “The Victorian Ladies’ Detective Collective.” Described as “Sherlock Holmes meets Arsenic & Old Lace,” this show is a murder-mystery with a mostly female cast.

For more information, go to

The Footlights Theatre in Falmouth ( opens its 2022-23 season with the world premiere of a play, “Love Is All You Need,” by Kevin Prescott (Sept. 22 to Oct. 8), which follows two generations who teach each other about love and relationships.

That will be followed by “Cries in the Night,” by Paul Elliot (Oct. 2 to Nov.5), a ghost story about a couple that moves into a new home in a new town.

Footlights also is showing two pre-season plays, in limited runs, written by artistic director Michael J. Tobin – “RBG: One Step at Time” (Sept. 8-10) about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and “Cupid’s Arrow” (Sept. 15-17), a comedy about two older people who give online dating a try.


Lyric Music Theater in South Portland ( will present “Jekyll & Hyde,” directed by Michael Donovan, from Sept. 16 through Oct. 2. It was written in 1990 and is loosely based on the late 19th century Robert Louis Stevenson novella “The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Portland Players ( will bring the mid-1990s Broadway hit musical “Rent,” by Jonathan Larson (Nov. 4-20). The story focuses on a group of artists and bohemians in New York City’s East Village dealing with poverty, drug use and the AIDS crisis. The show, which won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best musical, is loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera “La Bohème.” It ran for 12 years on Broadway.

The Studio Theater in Portland, co-located with Portland Stage, will showcase the latest from Maine playwright Kevin O’Leary, titled “Mars” (Sept. 21 to Oct. 1). O’Leary, who has written several plays, stepped down this year from teaching English and theater at Morse High School. “Mars” stars Marie Stewart Harmon, Sean Ramey and Kip Davis, the same actors who helped bring O’Leary’s 2019 play “Rock ‘n Roll” to life. For tickets, visit:

The Theater at Monmouth (, whose company focuses exclusively on Shakespeare and other classic plays, will perform the Bard’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” under the direction of Adam Blais from Sept. 15-25 at historic Cumston Hall.

City Theater in Biddeford ( will stage a modern romantic comedy, “Sylvia,” by A.R. Gurney from Oct. 7-23. The play follows a couple who move into Manhattan after spending two decades in the suburbs raising their children. Their careers are headed in different directions, putting strain on their marriage that only worsens when a dog, Sylvia, enters their lives.

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