CLT cast serves up a ‘sweet and simple valentine’

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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.

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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.

Remaining shows

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

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