REVIEW: Almost Maine at Playcrafters Barn Theatre
This is the third time I’ve seen a production of Almost Maine written by John Cariani who, I was surprised to learn several years ago, played one of my favorite recurring characters for a few seasons of the original Law & Order and he has proven himself to be an extremely talented playwright as well.
My first experience with this show was at a small theatre in Amana, Iowa, the second was at a professional regional theatre in Door County, Wisconsin and now – Playcrafters Barn Theatre in Moline. The first surprised me at how good it was. The second – well, we’re talking professionals, duh. The third – well, every bit as good as the professionals in Door County.
This is a delightfully charming show of how love comes about in its many iterations, from first love, to mature love, to lost love and everything in between. It premiered in Portland, Maine in 2004 and is one of THE most popular plays in the United States with over 100 professional productions and over 5,000 community, university, and high school productions. It’s set in the fictional small town of “Almost” because it is located just shy of the Canadian border and has never formally incorporated as a municipality. Hence, it’s “almost” a town. This show is touching, poignant, funny, reflective, and adorable. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will find something or someone with which to identify. And it all evolves under the magic of the Northern Lights.
Director Kathy Graham has assembled a dynamite ensemble cast that knocks each and every scene out of the park. They consist of: Nathan Lundberg, Ashley Gomez, Anna Kronenberger, Bill Pieffer, Joe Sager, Bailey Hager, Lauren Larson, Thayne Lamb, Noah Stivers, Tabitha Oles, Ashley Hoskins and Storm Marie Baca. This cast of 12 portrays 22 roles and does so flawlessly.
Graham has also designed and dressed an absolutely charming and well-constructed set evoking the chill of the north and includes two amazing cabin fronts and some cleverly illuminated strips of light along the walls of the audience to simulate the aurora borealis.
Last...I really like the way Graham presented the curtain call. This being an ensemble cast there was no “star,” per se. So the entire cast assembled on stage bowed, acknowledged the technical crew and then just pointed at each other during the applause. It was simply, gloriously and warmly inclusive.
Almost Maine continues at Playcrafters Barn Theatre, 4950 – 35th Avenue in Moline, Friday and Saturday, November17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 19 at 3:00 p.m.
I’m Chris Hicks…break a leg.