Staples to stage whimsical 'Almost, Maine'

Staples High senior Gregg Bonti and junior Alexandra Rappaport rehearse a vignette from the Staples Players' production of the "Almost, Maine," the whimsical romantic comedy playing May 24, 25 and 26.

Staples High senior Gregg Bonti and junior Alexandra Rappaport rehearse a vignette from the Staples Players' production of the "Almost, Maine," the whimsical romantic comedy playing May 24, 25 and 26.

Contributed Photo

The Staples Players next week will present four performances of "Almost, Maine," a collection of whimsical tales about the joys and perils of romance in a mythical small town in Maine.

Performances are planned in Staples Black Box Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, Friday, May 25 and Saturday May 26. A 4 p.m. show also is planned Saturday.

The comedy by John Cariani -- a Maine native -- comprises a series of loosely linked vignettes about love lost and found amid the snowdrifts and the Northern Lights.

The stories explore different types of romantic relationships between two characters. Some are falling in love for the first time; others are facing the end of their relationships.

The play was first performed in Portland, Maine, in 2004 and sold out its run.

It had a very brief off-broadway stint, opening in January 2006 and closing a month later. But it since has become a favorite for college and high school productions.

Each vignette deals with some stage of a romantic relationship, according to David Roth, who is directing the Staples production. For example: a couple meets and falls in love; a man runs into his ex on the night of her bachelorette party; a couple of friends find unexpected love; a woman gets her first kiss well into her adult life

"What sets this show apart," Roth said in a Staples news release, "is that there is a magical element to each of these common scenarios -- in each, something other worldly happens to aid in the making, or breaking, of the love. It takes everyday situations and presents them with a twist -- it's cute and funny and will surely warm your heart."

A 2006 New York Times review of the off-Broadway production said the play "will evoke either awww's or ick's, depending on your affection for its whimsical approach to the joys and perils of romance."

More Information
"ALMOST, MAINE" Who: Staples Players When: Thursday, May 24, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 26, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. Where: Staples Black Box Theatre Tickets: Students, $10; adults, $15. Available at www.staplesplayers.com and at the door (cash or checks only at the door). Info: www.staplesplayers.com

"Almost, Maine" has been produced with as few as four actors playing multiple roles or as many as 19 actors, according to the play's website, www.almostmaine.com. Staples has opted for a large cast.

"We chose this piece because it was a great way to feature a bunch of different actors -- everyone in the cast gets their moment to shine," Roth said in the release.

Adam Mirkine, a Staples junior and the assistant director, suggested audiences would be able to identify with the characters.

"Each one of these stories is about very normal people, in a very simple town, who find themselves overcome by some form of joy -- almost like magic," he said in the release. "They are no better or worse than you and I. Everybody is just trying to find their place in the world, and all they want is to be happy. Who doesn't want that?"

Dave Seltzer is the show's technical director and set designer. Costumes are by Marjorie Watt and Priscilla Stampa.