The Transylvania Times -

Little Theatre's 'Almost, Maine' Receives Thumbs Up

 

February 23, 2017



When deciding whether or not to attend a Brevard Little Theatre production, most local theatergoers rely on information from The Transylvania Times and the recommendations of friends who have already seen the show. Both of these sources give an enthusiastic “thumbs up” to “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani.

Superb acting, directing and technical expertise successfully transport audience members to a fictitious non-town in Maine that is so far North that certain parts of Canada are considered “down south.”

The play was written in 2002 and has been produced in over 2,500 United States and international theaters. It consists of a series of short plays, all of which take place in the same town at 9 p.m. on a Friday night, and all of them deal with love.

Most of the actors are seasoned semi-professionals who excel at bringing their characters to life. Christopher Fox plays three men, but viewers will remember him most for his slapstick, “fall-on-the-floor” portrayal of Chad, who comes to a startling realization about his own love interest.

Jeb Buffinton’s best of three is Dave in the last vignette of the show, when he does a farcical strip tease as he teaches Rhonda all about love.

Bob Pompeo provides continuity to the play as he repeatedly plays Pete, to whom love is a foreign language. His concept of closeness is so scientific, it’s actually amusing.

Blake Smith is new to acting, but one would never know it from his solid performance as Steve, a fellow with a medical issue that is miraculously cured.

Shawna Shook has the perplexing dilemma of playing Sandrine and telling her ex-boyfriend, who still has feelings for her, that she’s marrying someone else the next day.

Beth Norris really nails the character of Marvalyn, who begins to self-examine as the result of meeting Steve.

Sandra Whitmore’s two characters (Gayle and Hope) possess very different personalities; yet she portrays both with a nervous animation that is individually appropriate.

Returning to acting after a 25-year hiatus Jennifer Memolo hasn’t missed a stroke, as she becomes four females, culminating in the mock strip tease with Jeb.

Jim Keeley plays a man whose lost love, Hope, shows up at his door intending to renew the love that she’s run away from many years earlier.

Directors Annette Hobbs and Brandon Gash have succeeded in developing a conversational tone in the play. Audiences will forget that the thespians are acting and will feel as if they are eavesdropping on peoples’ lives.

Any review of this production would be deficient without mentioning its excellent technical expertise. Professional set designer Stephen Marsh has again worked his magic by creating an awe-inspiring background that is ideal for all the play’s actions.

Expert lighting designer Pat Durako creates the aurora borealis so convincingly that it causes audiences to sigh. The realistic sounds of car and snowmobile engines, as well as love songs during interludes, costumes that individualize the characters, backstage support from Linda Branham and Lauren Day, and many additional technical aspects of the show have been coordinated by Maureen Edick and Jackie Harness.

Tickets may be purchased and printed online (TheBrevardLittleTheatre.org), ordered at (828) 384-2587, or picked up at either Southern Comfort Records (16 W. Main) or at the theater one hour before each performance. Brevard Little Theatre is located at 55 East Jordan St. Patrons will help planners with future productions if they fill out the survey in their playbill.

The remaining shows are Feb. 24 to March 5, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m.

 
 

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