The Portland Players is the oldest community theatre in Maine and the second oldest known in New England. Founded in 1931, as the Portland Dramatic Guild, the group's first goals included raising funds for scholarships. The Players' first production was the one-act East of Eden, and its first president was Roger Vinton Snow, composer of the official Maine State Anthem, "Grand State of Maine".
Although dark for the war years, 1942-1946, the Players produced over 50 productions in its first 15 years, including dramas and comedies by Shaw, O'Neill, and Shakespeare, as well as Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. Many famous names of the stage and screen have performed with The Players, including Walter Abel (star of Paramount silent movie classic, The Three Musketeers), Portland native, Linda Lavin (star of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound and the CBS series Alice), and motion picture actress Phyllis Thaxter.
During the last 50 years, The Portland Players has broadened its repertoire to include such great works of the musical theatre as West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Into the Woods, Evita, Cabaret, and Sweeney Todd, as well as most of the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon. Dramatic productions, such as Who's Afraid of Viriginia Woolf?, Amadeus, Death of a Salesman, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as well as comedies like Brighton Beach Memoirs, You Can't Take It With You, Lend Me a Tenor, and Rumors, earned "blockbuster status."
For 20 of those years, these productions were lovingly directed by Joe Thomas, Artistic Director of The Portland Players from 1970 to 1990. Joe's untimely death in 1990 was a great loss to the theatre community.
Since that time, we have been proud to showcase the talents of many directors who have helped us bring quality productions each season to over 10,000 people who come from all over Southern Maine and New Hampshire to get a taste of award-winning community theatre in The Portland Players' tradition.
We continue our tradition of reaching out to the community with programs such as Outreach Night for the elderly and handicapped, a special Student Invitation to the first Sunday performance of each or our mainstage productions, and consider awarding a scholarship annually in the name of Joe Thomas. We will also continue to offer the best in community theatre and hope you'll continue to support The Portland Players for many years to come.