LEWISTON — The Public Theatre's 22nd season, which opens this weekend with a prestigious film festival, will also offer up a side-splitting spoof of a Sherlock Holmes classic, as well as performances of powerful drama and bittersweet romance.
The professional theater, once a movie house is hosting the Manhattan Short Film Festival through Sunday. The festival features 10 short films from around the world, shown in one viewing. These same films will be screened at venues around the globe within the same week and votes from audiences worldwide will be tallied to determine the winner.
Screenings are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at the theater at 31 Maple St. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students.
“Being selected as a venue for the festival is an honor and a delightful tribute to the theater’s history as a movie house,” said Janet Mitchko, TPT’s co-artistic director.
Turning to the season lineup of plays, Mitchko said it features the mix of material and artistic excellence that TPT audiences have come to expect.
“The Book Club Play” opens the on-stage season by drawing laughter from literature and celebrating the joys of reading and friendship. In it, oddball friends form a book club and are hilariously captured in all their dysfunctional glory when they become subjects of a documentary film. They soon discover that the real story is what happens between the lines.
The production, slated for Oct. 19-28, is about as new to the stage as any production can be. Mitchko said TPT is working with playwright Karen Zacharias on the continuing development of this new comedy, following its production at the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
“The script is not published yet," Mitchko said, and Zacharias will be in Lewiston to see TPT's production.
Next on the schedule is Robert Dubac's “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?” — a presentation of one man’s view of how women think. Dulac, who has decades of experience as a writer, actor and stand-up comedian, portrays Bobby, who is baffled when the woman he planned to marry dumps him. Bobby can't figure out why, probably because everything he learned about women was from other clueless guys, whom he also portrays.
Scheduled for Nov. 9-11, "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?" has been performed to rave reviews at multiple theaters across the country.
For the holiday season, TPT’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” will feature a new Scrooge, Joel Leffert, who portrayed artist Mark Rothko in TPT’s production of “Red” last March. The popular holiday performance will be staged on Dec. 7-9.
On Jan. 25-Feb. 3, TPT will present “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” a take-off on the popular Sherlock Holmes story. The madcap adventure revolves around an ancient family curse, a spectral hound and a deranged killer on the loose. Mitchko called the show “a ton of fun” with a “very silly” cast, including two of the zany actors who performed in TPT's production of “Around the World in 80 Days” last October.
March 15-24 will bring the Maine premiere of “Time Stands Still, a recent Broadway hit from Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies (“Dinner with Friends“). The play is a powerful, witty and intelligent look at how a change in perspective can alter an entire picture when a war-zone photojournalist comes back to her “normal” domestic life.
The bittersweet romantic comedy “The Last Romance" will be performed on May 3-12. It is written by Joe DiPietro, author of “Over the River and Through the Woods,” one of TPT’s most popular shows of recent years. Proving you're never too old to fall in love, the play centers around a charming widower who, while walking a new path home, unexpectedly finds a woman with her dog and the possibility of a second chance at love.
On May 19, TPT will end its 2012-2013 season with a children's production called “HAIKU, HIPHOP and HOTDOGS.” Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, creators of last season’s winsome production of “Anansi, Spiderman of Africa," will bring to life famous children's poems. The show is geared to ages prekindergarten to grade 5.
Mitchko said the $5 youth ticket introduced last year has brought “a huge increase” in young people attending regular shows.
She pointed out that physical upgrades over several years at the theater have topped $1.5 million. Improvements continue with additional space opened up above the stage to accommodate more lighting options.
For more information about The Public Theatre, call 782-3200 or visit www.thepublictheatre.org.