‘Almost, Maine’ has Lake Tahoe parallels | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Almost, Maine’ has Lake Tahoe parallels

Pat Leonard-Heffner Tessa Dixon and Thomas Lopez during a scene from "Almost, Maine," which opens this week in the Lake Tahoe Community College Duke Theatre.

“Almost, Maine” or almost Tahoe, the audience can decide

Opening Friday, March 11, in the Lake Tahoe Community College Duke Theatre, “Almost, Maine” takes a look at the many different sides of love against the backdrop of a cold, clear, winter night in small remote town. Sound familiar?

“This show is romantic, quirky, funny, and poignant,” said Director Susan Boulanger, about the 19-character play that is set in the mythical town of Almost, Maine.

The play, written by Tony award-winning actor John Cariani, was not a hit in New York, but has enjoyed an amazing second life in smaller theaters around the world. It was the most-produced play in North American high schools in 2010, pushing out “Midsummer Night’s Dream” from the No. 1 high school slot, according to the New York Times. Since its debut, it has been produced in small theater from Los Angeles to Dubai. More than 600 companies have staged the play in the U.S. and Canada alone.

The story is told in nine vignettes, all taking place in one evening, at the same time. Kurt Munger, technical director, said the concept for the set and lighting design for the show is a night scene in a snow globe. This year, the college’s Friends of the Theatre program funded the purchase of a scrim for the Duke Theatre. Used for the first time in “Almost, Maine,” the scrim is the backdrop of the set, and helped to create a starlight effect.

“There are many parallels between Tahoe and the play,” Munger said. “It is based in a small, tightknit community during a cold, long, winter. Anyone who has lived here and been out in a Tahoe meadow on a winter’s evening will recognize the landscapes created in the sets and lighting.”

Actor Matt Coogan praised Boulanger for the work put into the show and what she brings to the LTCC Theatre. Both Coogan and his wife Jen were cast in the production.

“She knows how to work us, and how to get the best out of us,” he said. “She cast me in the one part I didn’t want and the part that now I’m so glad I got.

“People will be stoked about ‘Almost, Maine.’ The main theme, I would say is vulnerability. Once you stop the crap and let your walls down a little bit, and what can happen when you open up to it.”

Coogan and his wife have been in several LTCC productions, including “Cats” and “Footloose.” The pair met in Las Vegas while working as singing gondoliers at The Venetian.

“We sang Italian love songs to each other,” Coogan said.

Boulanger said there is sense of magic to “Almost Maine” that allows the theatrical magic to flourish and underscores the mystical nature of love.

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