Almost, Maine

By John Cariani


Directed by David Kaye
February 5 to 21, 2016


Read the Reviews:
Waukesha Freeman, WaukeshaNOW

Photos:
Click on a photo to see a larger image

Photos By Carroll Studios Of Photography

Volunteer of the Production

Jordyn Stewart

Sponsored In Part By

WCT projects are supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin.

Cast 

Jim Donaldson

Pete, Steve, Chad, Man/Daniel

Carrie Gray

Glory, Marvalyn, Marci, Suzette

Dustin Nolan

Jimmy, Lendall, Phil, Dave

Tyler Peters

East, Randy

Jordyn Stewart

Ginette, Sandrine, Hope

Katie Thompson

Waitress, Gayle, Rhonda

Production Staff 

Director / Sound Designer

David Kaye

Assistant Director

Nicole Allee

Stage Manager

Kavyn Custer

Master Carpenter / Scenic Designer / Lighting Designer

Andrew Suggitt

Set Decorator / Properties Designer

Joanna Amos

Costume Designer

Sandy Carlson-Kaye

No element falls short in WCT's clever exploration of 'Almost, Maine'

By JULIE McHALE - TimeOut Theater Critic
February 18, 2016

WAUKESHA - If you've never had the pleasure of seeing the play "Almost, Maine" by John Cariani, run, not walk, to the Waukesha Civic Theatre this weekend. All nine vignettes take place in Almost, Maine, a rather forlorn place geographically but one where the universality of the needs of the human heart are manifest nonetheless.

There are 19 roles to play, but I've seen the play with as many as 19 or as few as four actors portraying all the parts. In this production, six gifted actors do the multitasking, exploring the ambiguity of human relationships.

Surprises abound. As each snapshot ends, we eagerly await the next, and then are sorry when there are no more.

The town, located in the northernmost climes of Maine is called Almost, Maine because the inhabitants never got organized enough to incorporate it. Their lives pretty much consist of work, hockey, bowling, ice skating, snowmobiling and hanging out at the local pub. In the midst of all these everyday activities, each character is looking for love.

What is particularly intriguing about this play, one that has run more than 2,000 times throughout the country, is the playwright's use of objects to concretize abstractions. A snowball, a paper bag, an accumulation of trash bags, a shoe, a hard-to-interpret painting, the northern lights - all are used to symbolize emotions. This clever technique attests to Cariani's amazing ingenuity.

The most touching scenes occurred between Glory and East (Carrie Gray and Tyler Peters), Jimmy and Sandrine (Dustin Nolan and Jordyn Stewart), and Hope and The Man (Stewart and Jim Donaldson).

The funniest were the scenes between Rhonda and Dave (Katie Thompson and Nolan) and the one between Randy and Chad (Peters and Donaldson).

Well-directed by David Kaye, "Almost, Maine" is sure to please anyone.

Review Title

By Reviewer Name
Posted: Month 16, 2012

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WCT's 'Almost, Maine' gets it more than almost right

By Marilyn Jozwik - WaukeshaNOW Theater Critic
Feb. 8, 2016

"Almost, Maine" has been a favorite of community theater groups for years. Its series of vignettes about love are clever, humorous and poignant, plus they are fairly easy to stage.

But while every version of the show I've seen has been enjoyable, I see how with some expert direction the many ideas about love can be conveyed even more effectively.

Waukesha Civic Theatre's production of "Almost, Maine" was a carefully crafted version that really lifted up playwright John Cariani's thoughts beyond some of the visual metaphors. Director David Kaye did it with a fine cast and nuanced performances that brought out the humor, while lighting and simple, thoughtful set design enhanced the themes.

A strong connection

From the opening with Pete (Jim Donaldson) and Ginette (Jordyn Stewart) sitting on a bench, exchanging awkward glances and long pauses before professing their love for each other, the audience can feel the connection. It is small gestures – like when Stewart's Ginette deflates when Pete doesn't immediately return her statement of love, and fills up when he finally does. This scene bookended the two acts of the play, each act having four scenes depicting a different aspect of love.

There are scenes that in past shows I've seen fell flat, but in Kaye's hands seem to find new life and meaning, such as "The Story of Hope." In the scene, Stewart's Hope tries to regain a lost love from years before. Jim Donaldson's body language, and the spare lines he delivers, are pivotal to the scene. The tone is perfect when Hope declares, "You're so small," to which Pete replies, "I lost a lot of Hope." Also effective is the spotlight focusing on Hope for just an instant to end the scene on the right note.

It is hard to pick favorite scenes since they were all done so well on opening night. I've seen the "They Fell" scene, featuring two drinking buddies (Tyler Peters and Donaldson) who realize they are falling in love, turn into slapstick. But these two had just the right emotional pitch, still keeping a good dose of comedy.

Many scenes contained Cariani's penchant for clever visuals of metaphors for various aspects of love, such as the broken heart Glory (Carrie Gray) carries with her in the "Her Heart" scene with Peters. Gray created several empathetic, memorable characters in other scenes as well, such as the woman who meets the emotionally bankrupt man (Donaldson) in "This Hurts" and with a simple kind gesture brings back his ability to feel, as well as the married woman who is falling out of love with her husband (Dustin Nolan) in "Where It Went."

Another charming visual is in the "Getting It Back" scene, in which Gayle (Katie Thompson) literally brings back all the love her boyfriend (Nolan) has given her over the years of their relationship, carting in armloads of red bags. But when she asks for her love back, the results are surprising and heartwarming, with just the right touch at the end to highlight Gayle's final thoughts.

Nolan and Thompson also pair up wonderfully in perhaps the funniest scene of the show, "Seeing The Thing," in which Dave tries to get his longtime girlfriend Rhonda to see that she is more than just a friend by painting her a picture. The two have just come back from snowmobiling in more layers than an onion and watching them peel those layers off is a hoot.

Nolan also is featured in the "Sad and Glad" scene with Stewart and Thompson, but I thought his Jimmy character a bit too caffeinated. Again, some good solid visuals here, with the tattoo clear to the last row in the theater.

A fine setting

The show is set in Almost, Maine, a fictional place in which townsfolk work at the lumber mill and hang out at The Moose Paddy. If you listen carefully, you'll hear the names of characters that have appeared in other scenes.

While this show utilizes a spare set, each piece has to serve a purpose, and lighting and timing are key to conveying the right emotional pitch, such as when a shoe drops in one scene, with just a moment's pause, to the darkened set. It was just right during the production I saw.

For many of those details, Andrew Suggitt, who served as master carpenter, scenic designer and lighting designer, deserves credit.

But most of the credit goes to the cast who, under Kaye's guidance, execute all of the charming bits wonderfully, eliciting lots of laughs and wringing out emotions to the very end, which brought a collective sigh from the audience.

Student rate is available for children and any patron with a current student ID. Senior rate applies to all patrons 60 years or older. Military rate is available for any patron with a valid current Military ID.

For our "Pay What You Can" performances, patrons can buy tickets for that show on the day of the performance at whatever price their budget will allow.

Subscriber rate is available to any subscriber for unlimited additional tickets outside their package.

10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Educational Group Rate is only available for all educational groups and Boy and Girl Scout troops. 10 ticket minimum per performance required.

Volunteer of the Production - Jordyn Stewart

Jordyn was always prepared to work, have fun, and jump in to do any tasks that needed to be done without being asked, both on stage and off. She had intense energy and unlimited enthusiasm. She was constantly proactive. This show grew in strength because of her helping hand and good spirits. One cast member said "it was a privilege to be in this show with her."