Love is in the air. Almost. As Valentine’s Day started to wrap up, a new reason to celebrate love came along with the production of “Almost, Maine” at the Herrick Theater. In most cases, love is magical. In “Almost, Maine,” love appears as lost and found as anyone trying to find the small town. The rom-com, flash-fiction of nine short love stories display all emotions that could be present when falling for that special someone.
“Almost, Maine” was written by John Cariani for an audience who enjoys romantic comedies. The first production took place in 2004. Since then, this “almost” love story has been on and off the big stages, including Broadway. The nine short scenes are entirely unrelated, other than the characters that appear in various scenes throughout the town.
Here at Albion College, the production was directed by three students: Zach Dahlmann, a junior from Highland, Michigan; Victoria Gitre, a junior from Harbor Springs, Michigan; and Savannah Manning, a junior from Muskegon, Michigan.
“It was a great experience. I’m really proud of the directors,” said Aariel Alexander, a senior theater major from Detroit. “I’m really happy with how this came out. It gave me that confidence that our theater department is going to grow and be more diverse, be full of more talent and draw more people in. I’m really excited about that.”
Manning, a lead director, goes on to say, “Mainly I’m an actor, so switching that over to director… it was really different because the way I grasp things as an actor isn’t the way new actors grasp it.” Overall, Manning had the chance to see the difference between the styles of communication and enjoyed the new experience. With new directors and some first-time actors, the play turned out to be a success. Terra Nicolette, a senior theater major from Sterling Heights, Michigan, goes on to share how amazing it was to produce “Almost, Maine.”
“My favorite part was working with new directors,” she said. “It was mostly a student-run production and it was great working with more than the two directors that we have here to get a lot of different feedback that I’m not used to getting. Working with Savannah and Zach was a good opportunity for me to learn new things from different people.”
Overall, the main focus of the play was the all-consuming, passionate sensation that most souls in this world, or any small town, are searching for: love.
The production was a hit with the crowd, who was full of excitement and frustration with the relatable relationships seen on stage. Who knew that a repairman could fix a broken heart, or that a misspelled tattoo would be a hint of fate. Sometimes getting hit with an ironing board can make you fall in love; other times literally falling may be the only option. A long-lived love may be the happy ending of every fairy tale, or in this case, maybe losing a shoe won’t mean winning Prince Charming. Don’t lose hope though! The “Story of Hope” as the eighth scene is a great wrap-up to this unpredictable mess of love.
The simple yet charming stage design was an excellent choice in which to display the combination of love stories. The magical winter display of the Northern Lights created a romantic backdrop for each scene. The ever-changing lights gave way to the unpredictable emotions of what love really is within each unique relationship. After all, love gives way to new beginnings, fresh hope and sometimes a little bit of fear.
The intangible emotion that each character is trying to find hit a chord within the audience. When someone spoke the magic words “I love you,” the audience was in suspense to see if a confirmation was returned.
Manning, a junior theater major, summed up her idea of love and the many forms it can evolve into: “Love to me, it’s kind of like a shapeshifter. You know, like how it is in the show. There’s nine different scenes and love is different in all of them. It’s bringing you together, it’s fading away and it’s feeling broken, or it’s between two friends.”
Nicolette, a leading actress in the production, agrees with how love appears in many forms. Every scene is different, even though some may not seem like love scenes they all work out for the best in the end. Some love stories are happy, some are sad. If someone takes a chance on love there is the possibility it will work out. As Nicolette explains, love is just an almost attained, almost kept, almost lost type of relationship.
Love is a shapeshifting emotion that can cause joy and pain. Just think, the only reason most people admit love is so they can hear the confirmation of it back. However, a great takeaway from this production is that if you add a little bit of comedy and sprinkle in some hope, then maybe things will work out. When it comes to love, just about anything can occur. In all, who really does know of what love consists? So, make sure you make it out to see the best production yet. No one would want to miss out on this enjoyable event of an almost tragic, almost hopeful, almost kind of love story.
Photo by Jessica Behrman