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Review: ‘Almost, Maine’ at Quince Orchard High School

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“If needed, use additional sheets.” I remember always being curious how anyone writing a High School exam essay could ever write enough to need additional sheets. Then I had the opportunity to review the Quince Orchard High School production of Almost, Maine by John Cariani and produced by Linda Lee.

The cast of 'Almost Maine.' Photo courtesy of Quince Orchard High School.

The cast of Almost, Maine. Photo by Sophia Wilcox.

According to Wikipedia Almost, Maine was developed at the Cape Cod Theater Project in 2002, and received its world premiere at Portland Stage Company, where it broke box office records. Almost, Maine opened Off Broadway in the winter of 2005/2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre and was subsequently published by Dramatists Play Service. To date, Almost Maine has been produced by over 2500 theater companies in the United States (and by over a dozen companies internationally) making it one of the most frequently produced plays of the past decade.

 I may need additional sheets…

Director Nicholas Jullian Saadipour and his trio of Student Directors Eli Schwartz, Luke Tittle, and Madhur Vinaik coaxed every ounce of love out of these obviously talented High School performers who welcomed me to Almost, Maine, a town that’s so far north, it’s almost Canada.

I caught the final performance. It was Senior Appreciation Night. The house was electric thanks to solar flares and the spectacle of the Northern Lights magically presented by Technical Director Alex Henry who’s interior and exterior set design placed me right in the action. Through eleven vignettes, the audience is exposed to just about every facet of this human thing we know of as ‘Love.’

14963223_1353934794616686_6917145233378128980_nAlex Roth and Camryn Mercer portray Pete and Ginette; in love, in solitude, and together at the beginning, middle, and end of this enthralling production.

Darya Malak Motiei and Daniel Holton erased all memory of my pedestrian life with her delightfully spacey Glory and his iconic repairman East.

Keegan Lauricella-Reed’s portrayal of Jimmy’s lost opportunity and Jessica Fisher’s Sandrine (the one that got away) just pulled at my heartstrings until Olivia Speck’s waitress served up salvation.

Coincidence (and the need to do laundry) brought together Emilie Prince (the revved up Marvalyn) and Alex Chase (the extraordinarily reserved Steve).

Perhaps the most poignant relationship is revealed by Bridget Lam as Lendall and Sarah MacPhee as Gayle who have been sending and misreading all the right signals for years.

Mason Radis and Chris Barron are fall-down funny competing for “Most Worst Dater Guy” as pair of hapless locals – Chad and Randy – who awkwardly realize they have way more in common.

Alex Roth and Bree Kooienga cathartically portray Phil and Marci who just can’t seem to get going on the right foot.

Drew Reuschlein, Zoe Lee, and Annie Coulson – surprised with their portrayals of a A Man Named Dan, Hope, and the Man’s Spouse.

Elena Asofsky brought Alex Chase back on stage as Rhonda and Dave, two enthusiastic outdoorsy types who finally shed their inhibitions.

Following the show Director Saadipour thanked and introduced all the important people who make a high school production of this quality possible. When all was said and done the stage was jam packed with people whom I will now identify (see additional sheets…):

The QO Stage Crew was comprised of James Antolick, Isabella Artino, Sarah Asofsky, Maddie Bonchick, Eryn Downey, Kaitlyn Drew, Hailey Feller, Christopher Fox, Julian Green, Kyle Hoffpauir, Jourdan Hyman, Katy Ingalls, Victoria Keith, Maria Kutishcheva, Lim Lamphier, Erin Lanham, Sydney Lauricella-Reed, Anthony Marin, Ashley Minear, Ryan Omerso, Selva Ozer, Ben Palmer, Kate Penn, Audrey Pham, Breyanna Queen, Joseph Ripple, Chloe Sauma, Eli Schwartz, Ken-Ichi Shay, Meili Soriano, Sruthi Srinivasan, Sara Tapia, Kristen Tapia, Mollit Tittle, Madhur Vinaik, Madison Wakefield, Emma Weber, and Sophia Wilcox.

Well done everybody – I loved it!

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Running Time: Two hours, with one intermission.

Almost, Maine played on November 5 and 12, 2016, at Quince Orchard High – 15800 Quince Orchard Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. Their Spring production will be announced around the 1st of the year. Questions and seating information are available by emailing the tickets chair at QOTheater.Tickets@gmail.com. Tickets are usually available at the door before each show.

LINKS:
The Almost, Maine website.

Quince Orchard High School’s Drama Department website page.

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