A magical 'Almost Maine'
On a snowy Friday night in the little town of Almost, holiday lights twinkle, residents meet, and love is in the air.
"Almost, Maine," now the most performed play in North American high schools, and recently put on by Interboro High School, is composed of nine romantic vignettes. Some end with the characters finding new relationships, others with them leaving old ones, and all with a surprising twist.
This production was anchored by its beautiful lights, which helped create the magical small town feeling the show requires. From a cozy holiday home to a night for stargazing, the lighting helped create the world of the play without taking attention from the actors.
Standouts included Angelique Zuppo as Rhonda, a lumberjack who was never attractive to men, and Jeff Ebner as her friend Dave. In their scene, Dave brings Rhonda a painting as a love token; she, however, doesn’t quite understand the intention. Ebner and Zuppo worked well together; he seemed genuinely enthused about Rhonda as he handed over his painting and the way she deliberately tramped across the stage showed her character’s gruff yet innocent confusion.
As Sandrine and Jimmy, former lovers sitting at the Moose Lodge together on the night of Sandrine’s bachelorette party, Natalie Dupont and Even Redding portrayed their characters’ motivations with soft, uncomfortable humor. Whereas sometimes other actors seemed over- or under-committed to their onstage relationships, Dupont and Redding had natural chemistry. Two more strong performances were those of Matt Simmons and Chris Simmons as Randy and Chad, best friends who fall for each other both physically and metaphorically. The two actors had the audience chuckling as their characters slipped on the stage as if it were an icy pond under the stars.
The technical aspects of this production were superb. For a show in which almost every scene contains references to starlight or the Northern Lights, Michael Yarabinee’s lighting system dazzled. Designed and engineered entirely by Yarabinee and operated with the help of Valerie Smith, the system created everything: a field of twinkling stars, a wash of blue splashed across the stage in a snowy scene, and the beams of the aurora borealis. The sound was strong, too, so that every line was loud enough for the audience to understand. The microphones did sometimes make the show feel less intimate, however. Nonetheless, the ease with which actors were heard, as well as the smooth scene changes and simple sets, composed of a bench here or a house’s wall there, allowed the audience to focus on the play’s romance and the characters' relationships.
All in all, "Almost, Maine’s" sweet interactions and strong sense of place made it a wintry, heartwarming production.