Maine's Portland Stage Company, opening its 1999-2000 season tonight, offers a varied season of comedy and dramatic revivals, running from classic Noel Coward to intimate drama. Highlights include the recent Off Broadway hit Collected Stories and a revival of Waiting for Godot starring Avner the Eccentric.
Opening the season is a Coward birth year centennial celebration production of Blithe Spirit, Sept. 28-Oct. 24 (officially opening Oct. 1). The comedy tells of a writer partakes in a seance only to get more than he bargained for -- the spirit of his late wife returned to earth. Sari Ketter, associate director at MN's Guthrie Theater, directs Blithe Spirit, which features Holly Cate as Elvira, Aled Davies, Jurian Hughes, Barbara Mather, Janice O'Rourke, John Leonard Thompson and Nicola Sheara (as Madame Arcati).
Also on the Portland season slate:
€ Russell Lees' Nixon's Nixon, a two-handed look at what happened the night before President Richard Nixon's resignation when he summoned Henry Kissinger to the White House, runs Nov. 2-12.
€ A Christmas Carol, the Portland's Stage Company's adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens Christmas tale, runs Nov. 30 Dec. 24.
€ Collected Stories, Donald Margulies' story of a young student who steals writings from her celebrated teacher, the writer Ruth Steiner, runs Jan. 11-30, 2000.
€ Avner the Eccentric (aka clown and juggler Avner Eisenberg) will star in Samuel Beckett's existential classic Waiting for Godot Feb. 15-March 5.
€ The Giles Havergal adaptation of Graham Greene's comic Travels With My Aunt runs March 14-April 2, 2000.
€ Finishing off the season will be Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky, the story of a group of friends who found themselves in the Harlem Renaissance but may lose everything in the Great Depression (April 11-May 7, 2000).
Subscriptions ($154-$95) are available by calling at (207) 774-0465. The Portland Stage Company is located at 25A Forest Avenue. -- By Christine Ehren & David Lefkowitz