MSMT this summer will stage two favorite book musicals from the ‘40s and a pair of shows from the ‘70s and ‘80s when musical theater was re-inventing itself.

ny one of the four shows in Maine State Music Theatre’s new season would deliver an evening of wonderful entertainment. Put the whole season together and audiences will see how the great American musical essentially re-invented itself in recent decades.

The four MSMT productions are all about Americans here and abroad, but that’s where the similarities end. From the 1970s and ‘80s come “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “Follies” and the classic musicals of the 1940s are represented by “Brigadoon” and “Kiss Me Kate.”

‘Pump Boys, Dinettes’

“Pump Boys and Dinettes” is MSMT’s season opener running June 9-26. It’s a down home finger-snapping and toe-tapping country musical that took Broadway by storm 20 years ago and is enjoying a next-generation revival today.

Conceived and written by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, John Schimmel and Jim Wann, “Pump Boys and Dinettes” began as a two-man act at the Cattleman Restaurant in New York. Hardwick and Wann were only hoping to jazz up their regular routine by wearing some silly gas station attendant uniforms. Little did they know that their buoyant dress-up escapade would not only find its way to Broadway, but it would be nominated for a Tony Award in 1982.

This incarnation of the six-character show, seen for the first time on the MSMT stage, features Riette Burdick (Rhetta), Marie Pressman (Prudie), Ed Romanoff (Jim), Dan Wright (Jackson), Brian Cimmet (L.M.) and Chris Blisset (Eddie).

Between Frog Level and Smyrna you’ll find that particular gas station where four gas jockeys work (sort of) and vocalize (beautifully) across the road from the Double Cupp Diner, where Prudie and Rhetta are waitresses.

The score’s highlights include “No Holds Barred,” “Be Good Or Be Gone,” “Fisherman’s Prayer,” “The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine,” and “Vacation.”

‘Follies’

“Follies,” which runs June 30-July 17, is also coming to Maine State Music Theatre for the first time. With book by novelist James Goldman and Tony-winning music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the story centers on a reunion of actors returning for a final performance at an old pre-war Follies theater, where their confused present lives confront elegantly dressed ghosts of their former selves.

While reunion is part of the plot, it’s reality for many of the actors returning to the Brunswick theater in this production. There’s Karen K. Edissi (KK Preese) whose last MSMT appearance was in “Swingtime Canteen” in 2000; Ann Dawaon, “Zorba,” 1978; Henry D’Alessandris, “On the Twentieth Century,” 1984; Ginger Prince, “Show Boat” concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, 1985; Beth Glover, “Footloose,” 2001; Pamela Main, “Titanic,” 2000; Larry Raiken, “She Loves Me,” 2002; Mark Jacoby, “Chicago,” 2002; and others from casts of “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Hans Christian Anderson” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”

A special reunion appearance will be made by Ruth Vogel, now a resident of Topsham, who appeared in MSMT’s 1972 production of “Oklahoma!”

“Follie’s highlights include “Beautiful Girls,” “Losing My Mind,” “I’m Still Here,” and “Broadway Baby.” The show has adult themes.

‘Brigadoon’

“Brigadoon” reappears from the Scottish mists July 21-Aug. 7. While the story says the miracle happens once every 100 years, Maine State Music theater has brought it about nearly once ever 10 years. This will mark six productions on its stage.

Two American hunters who have lost their way somewhere in The Highlands of Scotland stumble upon a tiny town where Fiona, a girl of the past, offers Tommy, a man uneasy about his future, the gift of a second chance.

Highlights of this beloved musical romance are “Heather on the Hill,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” “There But for You Go I,” and “I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean.”

‘Kiss Me Kate’

For great collaborations, you can’t beat Cole Porter and William Shakespeare.

In “Kiss Me Kate,” a divorced couple on the outs are playing Petruccio and Katherine in a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew.” Tensions rise onstage and off. Complications abound when the song-and-dance man uses the leading man’s name in a gambling debt gone wrong, and two thugs arrive backstage demanding their pound of flesh.

This Cole Porter show playing Aug. 11-28 features “So In Love,” “Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” “Wunderbar,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and “Too Darn Hot.”

Besides the four mainstage productions of MSMT, there will be a tribute appearance by Schooner Fare on June 21. The group’s bass guitarist, Tom Rowe, passed away recently, and this special event will honor his memory. MSMT’s Ed Romanoff will join his brothers Chuck and Steve Romanoff of Schooner Fare for this show.

MSMT mainstay John-Charles Kelly will present “J-C Kelly & Friends / Now and 4-Ever” with Martin Perry at the piano Aug. 16.

Productions for young people this summer are “Young Tom Edison” on June 16, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” on July 31 and “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” on Aug. 25.

Shows are in Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College campus. MSMT offers matinee and evening performances with prices ranging from $26 to $44. Student rush tickets at $10 are available for every performance. Check with the box office for details. For tickets and information, call (207) 725-8769. For more information, visit www.MSMT.org.


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