This November, Theatre West graced the stage with their production of Almost, Maine. This romantic comedy is set in the fictional town of Almost, Maine and includes nine vignettes of couples falling in and out of love, encountering amusing, ironic circumstances along the way. From discovering that you have gained feelings for someone to rekindling a relationship with loved ones, this production accurately showed the emotions present when undergoing these instances. However, this production was very different from shows in the past.
Adrian Otero, who plays East and Phil and has been part of Theatre West for three years, states that the play was “set up in a way Hills West Theater was not used to. Each scene was it’s [its] own story, with only two to three characters.” Consequently, this made rehearsal troublesome because only a handful of people were called to rehearse each day. This meant the cast only came one to three times a week opposed to rehearsal every day, though Tech Week had lasted until 8pm each night for a week. Margot Baker, who plays Glory and has been in Theatre West for three years states, “As with any show, we all had to spend time every day at home memorizing our lines and physical movements.”
While this unusual organization made rehearsal difficult, Adrian explains that “I got to watch my friends perform scenes I had never seen before because I didn’t rehearse on the same days as them. It was amazing to be able to see the drastic difference between the final product and where we started.” In fact, the style of production was entirely new to them because “there was no leads, which was a good thing as it usually causes upset and drama within the cast.”
During Otero’s freshman year, the senior theater kids had actually tried to produce Almost, Maine as a student-run show. This didn’t end up working out, but it set the stage for understanding the storyline and production of the play. For others, Margot explains that a few people performed this production with theatre companies outside of Hills West.
Margot also shares that this year was different because Ms. Curry joined Theatre West as our Set Designer as did Hills West alum Ms. Abby Schlackman as our Lighting Designer. The sets emulated the winter season in the northeast with lighting that achieved the appearance of the Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights. The scenes that involved this use of this light were breathtaking and showed the silver lining at the end of any situation. The rest of the sets used were for certain vignettes that took place indoors despite the majority of them were shown outdoors.
Mrs. Curry, the Set Designer, reveals that they consulted an outside company to install the light and star curtain, allowing the set to mimic an expansive sky in Northern Maine dotted with stars. Their main goal was to replicate a small town, one that could encompass romance and comedy under the northern lights.
Likewise, with such a wide variety of characters represented in the play, Adrian admits “preparing was really hard as I played three characters and had to play each of them distinctly different. I couldn’t let any similarities pass me by, down to even how I said a certain word.”
Although there were various romantic encounters throughout this play, they seemed to be relatable. The majority of the scenes began with a couple spending time together. Some happened to have people who just met. Within these scenes, the actors perfectly captured the initial awkwardness when meeting someone new. Each of the cast members had great chemistry with each other and performed every line naturally, which made the scenes more believable. The comedy in this production was natural as well. These moments were unexpected yet made the scene more enjoyable and grabbed attention. The scene titled, “This Hurts” between the characters Marvalyn and Steve, played by Julia Davolio and James Ludemann respectively, had a great representation of onstage interests in each other.
For me and many other students at Hills West, it was a show like no other. Walking out of this performance, there was an uproar of applause and all you could hear was praise and excitement. Almost, Maine was something that made its mark on Hills West in a positive light.