WARREN, NJ – Twenty student thespians in the Script and Cue Drama Program at Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) tackled the good-natured, sometimes humorous, decidedly cerebral, but also pleasantly quirky new drama, “Almost, Maine,” giving life to its charming literary script to deliver a masterful performance, and this week some of the same students will perform in concerts on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
The school’s annual Fall Drama was staged in the WHRHS Performing Arts Center (PAC), Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21, 22, and 23. The play, by playwright and novelist John Cariani, is comprised of nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote, mythical “almost-town” called Almost, Maine.
It premiered in 2004 at the Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine, where it received critical acclaim. In 2017-2018, it earned the distinction of being the most produced play in North American high schools, besting even “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” by William Shakespeare.
Almost, Maine opened Off-Broadway with a one-month limited engagement at the Daryl Roth Theatre in January, 2006. The Daryl Roth Theatre is a legendary off-Broadway performance space at 101 East 15th Street, near Union Square, Manhattan.
The WHRHS actors and actresses were supported by an energetic behind-the-scene team of student and professional Production Staff members. They contributed all the numerous tasks required to stage a live drama in four performances, including three evening performances and a Saturday afternoon matinee.
Matching the charming acting, script and production crew was fetching stage scenery that acted like a 21st actor. The audiencewas placed in the play’s eight titled scenes, plus the “Prologue, Interlogue, and Epilogue” scene trilogy. The play’s program explains that the scenes portray the various locales in the mythical town of Almost, Maine. The time is the present. All events transpire over the same 10 minutes – from around 8:50 to a bit after 9 p.m. – on a cold, clear, moonless, slightly surreal Friday night, in the middle of the deepest part of a Northern Maine Winter.”
The play examines various aspects of new, young, sometimes exasperating but ultimately charming love.
The cast, in order of appearance, included:
Act 1: Andrew Moberly played East and Christine Tanko played Glory in a scene titled, “Her Heart;”
Lucas Melo played Jimmy, Giovanna DiSanto played Sandrine, and Sydney Waddy played Waitress in “Sad and Glad;”
Ariya Blow played Marvalyn, and Jack Melillo played Steve in “This Hurts;” and
Jordan Pincus played Gayle and Nicholas Harrison played Lendall in “Getting It Back;”
Act 2: Mia Hoinis played Deena and Maddie Johnson played Shelly in “They Fell;”
Matthew Mackrell played Phil and Olivia Kider played Marci in “Where It Went;”
Jack Melillo played Daniel and Catherine Quirico played Hope in “Story of Hope;” and
Andrew Moberly played Dave and Nina DiNorscio played Rhonda in “Seeing The Thing.”
In addition, Paul Riedler and Christian Takleszyn portrayed Townspeople in several scenes.
“Almost, Maine” was directed by WHRHS Drama Teacher Douglas Eaton.
Chief Assistant Director was Portia Rowley. Assistant Director was Talia Hooke. Production Stage Manager was Alexander Martin. Set Designer was Douglas Eaton. Scenic Artist was Kate Griffin. Costume Designer was Gail DeCicco. And Lighting Designer was Chris Valenti.
Sound Designer was Rick Clark. Set Construction was Nick DiNizio. Assistant Stage Managers were Elena Celeste and Melissa Miketen. Technical Director and Set CAD Layout was Chris Valenti. Video Projections and Lighting Effects were Chris Valenti, Rick Clark and Nick DiNizio.
Prop Master was Rachel Krouk. Head of Costume was Lauren Quinn. Rigging was Zayn Khalil. Sound Board was KrystynaLeski. Special Effects was Kayley Garcell. Lighting Board Operator was Cat Teo.
Running Crew was: Jennifer Buser, Carolina Delvalle, Tyler Isherwood, Autumn Rodriguez, Crosby Sayan, Ally Valatare, Siya Wadhare, Jaimie Wu and Janice Wang. Props Crew were: Gregory Katchko, Virginia Paris, and Pavithra Ponnolu. Costume Crew was: Josette Sapia, Lydia Eberle; and Nora Lange.
Co-heads of Hair and Makeup were: Sophia Formissano and Hannah Stevens. Hair and Makeup Crew were: Julia Cornell Nathan Gennaro. Ushers were: Emily Dec, Maddie Leong. Erin Pinto, and Michael Wong.
Script and Cue Business Manager is Dianne Krutz.
The Program includes this note of thanks: “A special thank you to: Megan Krutz for designing the cover art; and Rachel Kroukfor making the program.”