‘Almost, Maine’ brings love, loss and humor to the stage

By : 
Jordan Gerard

It’s a little fictional town that’s located so far north in Maine, it might as well be in Canada. For the residents of Almost, Maine, the northern lights create a certain kind of magic that allows for the feeling that love creates to be explored in a new kind of way.

Ye Olde Opera House’s (YOOH) fall play will have audiences relating to the characters, so says director Chelsea McManimon-Moe.

“It’s very magical. It’s about love and loss, and understanding that those two things happen simultaneously,” she said. “Everybody wants to relate. The sadness or pain they felt and then on the other side of it is joy and laughter.”

Show dates are Friday, Nov. 2; Saturday, Nov. 3; Friday, Nov. 9; and Saturday, Nov. 10. Each performance starts at 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Refreshments, snacks and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $10. Advance tickets are recommended for those who don’t want to “get the best of what’s left.”

Call 507-498-5859 for tickets or visit the YOOH website at www.yeoldeoperahouse.org.

The play differs from previous ones by the opera house in the sense that the characters could exist anywhere. 

Producer Scott Solberg said even though actors will be familiar to people, they’ve never seen them like this.

“With plays like ‘Greater Tuna, Texas’ and ‘Escanaba in the Moonlight,’ we know those people don’t really exist,” he said. “But in ‘Almost, Maine,’ they’re humans in heightened situations.”

McManimon-Moe enjoys directing her first major production. A lot of emotion goes into the scenes, and the actors don’t need to do a lot of acting.

“Something that is really incredible to watch is see someone acting, but not faking,” she said. “The emotions are there because people have went through them in their own life.”

She mentioned in playwright John Cariani’s notes, he talks about how the people in the town experience a lot of pain, and that pain and comedy go hand in hand.

Further explaining, it’s like looking back at a bad experience in life and realizing you’re able to laugh at it later. Each scene has a surprise in it, and audience reaction is what McManimon-Moe wants. 

“The moments line up beautifully that you can’t help letting out a sound,” she said. “It’s a cool feeling to get that moment.”

Solberg added there are really funny spots in the show, and the play is a roller coaster of emotion. 

“Theoretically, the vignettes are all at the same time,” he said. “It all works together, and is very thought out. You see parts of yourself in all of them.”

The show is also done in nine mini-plays, or vignettes. The production will also be using a projector while the performance is running.

Returning to stage after a long hiatus is Don Vesterse. McManimon-Moe said she’s excited for his return and to work with him.

There are veteran actors such as Mary Deters, Vesterse and Sara Krosus. There are new actors such as Harvey Goetting and Addison Cross. This makes for a learning experience at every rehearsal, McManimon-Moe said.

“It’s fun to learn from veterans, and the veterans are learning from the young people,” she added.

Since this is not a commonly known production, the audience is not sure what to expect. However, McManimon-Moe said the play does a good job of allowing the audience to feel something without demanding it.

“It has a really subtle way of working on you,” she said. “You’re literally living through it with the characters. This is a really incredible way to experience that.”

Cast list

Don Vesterse………………..Pete

Mary Deters…………………Ginette

Jen Solberg…………………Glory, Waitress, Rhonda 

Harvey Goetting……………East, Phil 

Doug Hamilton………..……Steve, Chad 

Addison Cross………………Marvalyn, Sandrine 

Scott Solberg……………….Man (Daniel), Jimmy 

Sara Krosus……….………..Hope 

Rachel Storlie………………Gayle 

David Storlie …….…………Lendall, Randy, Dave 

Kay Cross.........…………….Marci