AUBURN— The middle of February is a good time to get away from it all, and a quick trip to “Almost, Maine” is just right.
The play’s current production by Community Little Theatre and director Katie St. Pierre is a sweet and simple valentine. It’s filled with surprises like a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
Maine author John Cariani takes a few familiar situations — love that is lost, found or narrowly missed — and gives them each a delightful twist of fantasy. In eight short scenes, all taking place around 9 p.m. on a cold night, several residents of a mythical northern Maine town experience a variety of romantic encounters.
Cast members play multiple roles in stories unfolding in Almost, Maine, that run the gamut from slapstick to bittersweet “almost” endings.
Each of the actors has opportunities for dramatic and humorous portrayals.
Victoria Machado delivers a fine characterization as Rhonda, a tough young lady whose feelings are kept in close check. Van Beckman plays the surprisingly sensitive suitor who breaks down Rhonda’s guard in a fun-filled scene.
Beckman, who recently moved to the L-A area from Wyoming, is new to the CLT stage, but has extensive theatrical experience.
Machado appeared in CLT’s “Inspecting Carol” about a year ago and has been stage manager for numerous productions.
Eileen Messina’s dramatic presentation in the “Story of Hope” scene is outstanding. It is principally a monologue that builds to an intense ending. Messina has appeared in numerous CLT roles. She has also directed “Our Town,” “The Lion In Winter,” “Sylvi” and “Inspecting Carol;” and she choreographed musicals “42nd Street,” “Anything Goes,” “Into The Woods,” “How To Succeed In Business” and “Company.”
Jason Pelletier’s roles in “Almost, Maine” allow him to show a wide range of talent. He and Beckman are a couple of country boys who are excellent in a hilarious scene of buddies trying to best each other with bad date stories.
Pelletier also plays a quiet man who is unable to feel pain. He keeps lists of things that can hurt him and that he should fear. Pelletier also is featured in a prologue with Chiara Ferrante that gives the audience a whimsical look at what will follow. Each of the scenes has just enough fantasy and magic to emphasize the similarities between what happens in “Almost, Maine” and in real-life romances.
CLT veteran Roger Philippon gives solid portrayals of a repairman who must fix a broken heart and of a man whose longtime girlfriend wants her love back. Kay Myrick is the girl with the broken heart and gives a fine performance.
These are whimsical skits that suit Philippon well, and he also gives a fine dramatic presentation of a deteriorating romance in which Messina gives another good portrayal.
Christine Doucette plays a waitress in a bar where Beckman runs into his former girlfriend, played by Ferrrante. This scene, like the others in “Almost, Maine,” ends with a quick punch line.
The sets for the show are well done with most of them depicting a winter night with northern lights above.
WHAT: “Almost, Maine”
WHO: Community Little Theatre
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19
WHERE: Great Falls Arts Center, 30 Academy St., Auburn
TICKETS: Call 783-0958 or visit www.laclt.com