Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

13 Best Summer Theaters in Maine to Catch a Show

If you’re looking for a unique and entertaining way to spend your summer in Maine, why not check out some of the state’s summer shows? From classic musicals to contemporary plays, there’s something for everyone on stage in Maine during the warmer months.

Summer on the Maine coast means more than just beaches, lighthouse beacons, and breaking into fresh Maine lobster. You can add some culture to that side of Maine crustacean… after all, summer-stock theatre on the coast is classic, and some of the best bands and performers come to host concerts and performances.

Whether you’re a theater buff or just looking for a fun night out, Maine’s summer theaters offer a range of events and performances that are sure to delight you. In addition to high-quality productions, many of these theaters are located in beautiful settings, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of Maine while you take in a show.

If you’re looking for a memorable summer theater experience in Maine, you’re in luck. The state is home to several top-notch summer theater venues that showcase a variety of plays and musicals. Here are some of the best summer theaters in Maine.

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre-
Vinegar Hill Music Theatre | photo via vinhillmusic

Ogunquit Playhouse

If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, consider visiting the Ogunquit Playhouse. This venue has been entertaining audiences for over 90 years and has received numerous positive reviews from visitors.

Located in the charming coastal town of Ogunquit, the Ogunquit Playhouse is one of the oldest summer theaters in the country. It has a rich history of presenting Broadway-quality shows, and its productions have been lauded by critics and audiences alike.

History of Ogunquit Playhouse

The Ogunquit Playhouse got its start in 1933, in a garage, during the Depression when Walter Hartwig brought the Manhattan Theatre Colony to Maine. In 1937, the playhouse moved to its current location on Maine St, Route 1.

In 1950, John Lane took the reins, before Bradford Kenney. The Ogunquit Playhouse brings top off-Broadway productions and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I have seen two shows here in the last two years and both performances were fantastic. The most recent show that I saw with my fiancé was the Nutty Professor and I was amazed at the talent and production. We had great seats but I think the room would provide a great view of the stage from any seat. There is a nice bar and you can take drinks into the show. There is also an outdoor bar for intermission. The seats were fairly comfortable and they have the parking figured out pretty well. I highly recommend!”

Dustin, TripAdvisor review

Hackmatack Playhouse

The Hackmatack Playhouse, located in Berwick, is another beloved summer theater in Maine. Founded in 1972, it is housed in a 1716 barn on the old Gupthill family farm in pastoral Southwestern Maine and offers a classic summer-stock theater experience.

“Been going every year since 1982. Drama, comedy, musicals. All great. 4 shows a season. No bad seat in the house – very small. Old barn. Don’t be afraid of the size – Shows of same quality as Ogunquit Playhouse (Sometimes Better!)”

Mik, TripAdvisor Review
Maine State Music Theatre
Maine State Music Theatre | photo via cosmojerry

Maine State Music Theatre

The Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick is a professional summer-stock theater that has been entertaining audiences for over 60 years. Its productions feature talented performers from Broadway, television, and film.

The theater operates its summer season from June to August out of Bowdoin College’s Pickard Theater. From classic plays to contemporary works, there’s something for everyone at Bowdoin College Summer Theatre.

“So professional you’d think you were in NYC. I kid you not. After seeing four different shows at MSMT I am convinced that local theatre is where it’s at. And you don’t have to be local to love it. You will come back again and again, if you aren’t here year round. Equity actors at reasonable prices. What more could you ask?”

Eleanor, TripAdvisor review
Deertrees Theatre-Harrison
Deertrees Theatre | photo via mainemusicandhealth

Deertrees Theatre

The Deertrees Theatre in Harrison is a stunning venue that has been hosting performances since 1936. It is known for its intimate atmosphere and high-quality productions.

“Deertrees Theatre is an architectural and acoustic gem. The atmosphere is friendly and warm. There is first rate classical music, comedy, plays, jazz. This place deserves great support as it is indeed a National Treasure.”

Stephen, TripAdvisor review
Portland Stage
Portland Stage | photo via ibonnemc

Portland Stage

Portland Stage, the leading professional theater in Northern New England, is dedicated to creating great art, is passionate about utilizing theater to teach, and is dedicated to strengthening its community. Located in the heart of Portland, this professional theater company produces a diverse range of plays and musicals.

“Portland Stage is a gem. From the warm smile on the face of the worker in the box office, to the friendly hands-on service of the usher who took me to my seat, like she was inviting me into her home. The performance I saw of THE CLEAN HOUSE was funny yet poignant. The acting was top-notch. The seats were comfortable with legroom and the neighborhood is fun and funky! Great visit, wonderful find.”

C.E., TripAdvisor review

Acadia Repertory Theatre

The Acadia Repertory Theatre in Somesville is a small but mighty theater that presents a mix of classic and contemporary plays.

It has been operating in the rustic Masonic Hall since 1973, offering an excellent combination of comedies, dramas, mysteries, and children’s theatre in the intimate performance venue, which seats 148 people.

Acadia Repertory Theatre
Acadia Repertory Theatre | photo via julieannacts

Location of Acadia Repertory Theatre

Acadia National Park, which covers more than half of the island, surrounds Acadia Repertory Theatre. Mountains, pine trees, lakes, and the seaside all make ideal settings for a summer theater group.

The calm and informal atmosphere at the theatre is the ideal way to cap off a day spent seeing the wonders of Mount Desert Island.

“One of the joys of summer .. an evening of entertaining theatre in the county. ART has been doing great plays with talented actors for years and really delivers every Summer. All fun an interesting plays and always a good Agatha Christie to end the season! Well worth multiple visits …”

Bob, TripAdvisor review
Carousel Music Theater
Carousel Music Theater | photo via ihateianstuart

Carousel Music Theater

Carousel Music Theater is a summer dinner theater in Boothbay Harbor Maine that has been entertaining audiences for over 50 years. With original comedy revues, the theater pays homage to the singers and songs of the Great American Songbook from the 1940s to 1970s.

From late July to early August, the Maine theater offers a three-course hot Maine fare dinner served by its cast. A cabaret and a full show are sure to entertain! The theater has a cozy and intimate atmosphere, and the staff is friendly and welcoming.

“We had a great time at the dinner & show at the Carousel Music Theater. The waiters/waitresses (who are also the actors/actresses) were excellent on all fronts. Food, drinks and service were great! Our show, The Marvelous Wonderettes, was a crowd-pleaser and hilarious from start to finish. The actresses were fantastic. We had a great time!”

H. Lewis, TripAdvisor review

Penobscot Theatre Company

Penobscot Theatre Company is a professional theatre company located in Bangor Maine. Founded in 1973, it produces a variety of plays and musicals each year, including world premieres and classic works. The company also offers educational programs for children and adults, and it is committed to promoting the arts in its community.

“What a wonderful theatre! I had a couple of free days during a business trip and the theatre was recommended by a friend. The performance was very well done, the venue was warm and comfortable, and acoustics were great. I recommend it and will make a point of attending another performance on the next visit!”

Angela, TripAdvisor review
Portland Stage
Portland Stage | photo via ibonnemc

The Public Theatre

The Public Theatre is a professional theatre company located in Lewiston Maine and has won DownEast Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Poll for the “Best Theatre in Maine” for multiple years in a row. Founded in 1991, it produces a variety of plays each year, including world premieres and classic works. The theater also offers summer theater camps for kids.

“Over the past year we have been here several times and for a small theater they do great presentations. There’s not a bad seat in the house. They serve wine and cookies before and during intermission. The plays are interesting and I have never been disappointed.”

Fran, TripAdvisor review

Theater at Monmouth

The Theater at Monmouth is a professional theatre company located in Monmouth Maine. Founded in 1970, it is one of the oldest and most respected summer theatres in the country and is housed in Cumston Hall.

Cumston Hall is one of Maine’s crown treasures. Its asymmetrical architecture and magnificent stained glass windows captivate the mind. Theatergoers from all across New England recognize the hall as the home of the Shakespearean Theatre.

The theatre company produces a variety of plays each year, including Shakespearean works, classic plays, and new works.

“Fabulous actors in well directed plays with creative sets. Shakespeare, Arthur Conan Doyle, Noel Coward and many other excellent classic and contemporary playwriters.”

Phil, TripAdvisor review

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre is Arundel Maine’s cool music venue and is located in the old Arundel Barn Playhouse near Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The name Vinegar Hill pays tribute to the history of this area in Arundel and the Smith Sister’s Farm.

Focusing more on musical performances than theatrical, Vinegar Hill Music Theatre is a proud part of the excellent tradition of summer theatre in Maine and of the histories of Arundel, Vinegar Hill, and the Smith Sisters’ Farm.

Vinegar Hill Music Theatre
Vinegar Hill Music Theatre | photo via deepbluecorchestra

History of Vinegar Hill Music Theatre

The Arundel Barn Playhouse opened in 1998 and provided entertainment for almost 20 years before Adrienne Grant sold the playhouse in 2015. New owners Tim Harrington and Debbie Lennon worked with former Broadway performer George Dyvosky and reopened the venue in 2016 with managing director Sarah Dearing.

“What a lovely venue! I went here to a Maine mystery writers’ panel. The building is beautifully redone. The acoustics seemed good. The staff was very nice. Ticket prices are reasonable and they seem to have a good selection of musical acts, talks, movies and the like. It’s a great place to take in an event if you are in the area.”

T.B., TripAdvisor review

Outdoor Summer Theaters in Maine

When the weather is warm and the days are long, nothing beats enjoying a live performance in the great outdoors. Maine has a variety of outdoor summer theaters that offer a unique and memorable experience. Here are three of the best.

Lakewood Theater

If you’re looking for a truly unique theater experience, look no further than the Lakewood Theater. This outdoor theater is located in the scenic town of East Madison Maine and offers a variety of performances throughout the summer. From plays and musicals to dance performances and concerts, there’s something for everyone at this community theater on the shores of Wesserunsett Lake.

Shakespeare in the Park

For lovers of the Bard, Shakespeare in the Park by the Fenix Theatre Company is a must-see. This annual event takes place in Portland’s Deering Oaks Park and features free performances of some of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. Pack a picnic and a blanket, and settle in for an evening of unforgettable theater under the stars.

FAQs About Summer Theaters in Maine

What are the best summer theaters in Maine?

There are several highly regarded summer theaters in Maine, including the Maine State Music Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, and Penobscot Theatre Company.

When do summer theaters in Maine typically open?

Most summer theaters in Maine open in late May or early June and run through late August or early September.

What types of shows are typically performed at summer theaters in Maine?

Summer theaters in Maine typically feature a variety of shows, including musicals, dramas, comedies, and children’s theater productions.

History of Summer Theaters in Maine

Summer theaters have been a long-standing tradition in Maine, dating back to the early 1900s when aspiring performers and producers flocked to theater colonies at lakeside villages and seaside resorts.

The Original Summer Venue

The first summer theater on the mainland was Lakewood Theater, which has been delighting audiences since 1901 and is the oldest summer theater in the nation in terms of continuous operation. Lakewood Theater was designated the Official Theater of the State of Maine in 1967. 

Maine State Music Theatre was founded in 1959, and it has been a cornerstone of the Maine theater scene ever since. MSMT is one of the largest performing arts organizations in Maine, and it produces four mainstage productions each summer.

More Summer Theaters

By the late 1960s, summer playhouses saturated Maine, and theaters sprouted across all of New England, making up what the New York Times called the “Straw Hat Circuit.” Many of these playhouses featured TV and film stars in romantic comedies, but few were exclusively musical theater houses.

Summer theater has become an integral part of Maine’s culture and tourism industry. Visitors from all over the world come to Maine to experience the unique charm and beauty of the state, and summer theaters are a big draw.

From Ogunquit to Boothbay, Harrison to Skowhegan, summer theaters offer more than just entertainment. They provide a glimpse into Maine’s rich history and vibrant arts scene.

Snag a Ticket to a Show at One of Maine’s Summer Theaters

You have now explored some of the best summer theaters in Maine that produce Broadway-caliber plays every season for your enjoyment. Maine’s summer theaters continue to provide high-quality entertainment to visitors and residents alike.

From old-fashioned playhouses to Shakespeare on the Green and State theaters, and whether you are looking for a classic play or a modern musical, there is something for every theatre-lover in the artistic state of Maine.

So why not plan a trip to Maine this summer and experience the magic of live theater for yourself? With so many great venues to choose from, you are sure to have a memorable and enjoyable time.