On a cold Friday evening, an unusual number of residents of Almost, a fictional town in northern Maine, fall in and out of love in John Cariani’s play “Almost, Maine.” In eight different scenes with 19 different characters, Cape Elizabeth High School students will enact the heartbreaks and love connections on stage this weekend.

The show opens on Thursday and runs through Sunday. The Thursday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and the final performance on Sunday is at 2 p.m. Friday’s show will begin at 9 p.m., the same time of the same day of week as the play takes place.

Cariani, the playwright, comes from northern Maine. Though he now lives in New York City, he recently visited a dress rehearsal at Cape Elizabeth High School – an experience the actors found helpful and enjoyable.

“He was surprisingly funny and down to earth,” said junior Kendall Cooper. Senior Sasha Bridger added, “It was probably the most valuable thing that we’ve done.”

Bridger’s character, Pete, and senior Gina Stevensen’s character, Ginette, are the only characters to reappear throughout the play. Their relationship is highlighted in the beginning, middle and end of the show, acting as a thread that ties the scenes together.

The scenes take place at a several spots throughout the town: a skating pond, a bar, a back yard, a Laundromat. The scenery at the different locales is represented by photographs that are projected on a screen. The screen is cut out in the shape of Maine and serves as a backdrop for the whole play.

Director Dick Mullen credited the students for the beauty of the set.

“Students are heavily, heavily involved in design and costuming,” he said.

The members of the costume crew, however, were modest about their efforts. “We didn’t have to do a lot shopping,” said senior Aliha Sutherland.

Senior Jeanette Haltof said they used “mostly stuff kids wear anyway.” Down vests, slippers, ski suits and flannel shirts made up most of the wardrobe. “Basically a lot of L.L. Bean,” Sutherland said.

According to Mullen, there is more for audiences to relate to than the character’s choice of clothing. “It’s got honest people in it, dealing with honest problems,” he said. “It deals with mature issues,” he warned, like sexuality and failed relationships – and successful ones, too. “It’s about chance,” he said.

Mullen has no problem taking a chance when it comes to casting his plays. He welcomes students with varied interests to join his shows.

In “Almost, Maine,” Cape theater veterans are acting alongside newcomers – including the senior actors playing the two central characters. While this is Bridger’s first year in theater, Stevensen has been involved in plays throughout high school and is the president of the school’s theater council.

However, according to Mullen, the student-actors in “Almost, Maine” have at least one thing in common – their passion for the play.

“They love it,” Mullen said. “They’ve been crazy about this script from the beginning.”

According to stage manager Johannes Pleschberger, the audience will feel the same way.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s a really good play.”

“Almost, Maine” premiered at Portland Stage Company in the fall of 2005, where it was one of the theater’s most popular offerings. It also had a short run Off Broadway in New York City.

Cape Elizabeth seniors Sasha Bridger and Gina Stevensen play Pete and Ginette in the high school’s production of “Almost, Maine.”Greg Ross, Katherina Enna and Hannah Towers portray a scene at a bar in the high school’s production of “Almost, Maine.”


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