HAMILTON — The weekend following Valentine’s Day is a good time to see a local production of “Almost, Maine,” a play about falling in and out of love in the strangest ways.
Directed by Brian Smith, and produced by Mandy Gambrell and Lyndall Murray, The Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre (GHCT) will present “Almost, Maine” on Thurs., Feb 16 through Sun., Feb. 19 at Miami University Hamilton’s Parrish Auditorium.
Smith said the play was written by John Cariani, an award-winning actor and an accomplished playwright, who recently starred in “Something Rotten” and the latest revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway. Cariani is also best known by television viewers as the forensic expert, Julian Beck in Law & Order.
“It’s a really good actor’s play. It deals with relationships, and it takes place in this small, fictional town called ‘Almost, Maine.’ Theoretically, there are nine scenes, and they all take place at the same time. So, they are all supposed to be simultaneous, but obviously, you can’t watch them that way,” Smith said.
Each of the scenes deal with relationships, some good, bad, new, or older. Some relationships are going well and others are not, he said.
“The dialogue is realistic, and I think it deals with things we have all felt before. But, then, each scene has an almost magical, mystical, outside supernatural force. Some of them have surprise endings. There’s also a lot of symbolism and metaphors…It has something for everybody. It’s one of the hottest plays on the amateur circuit, and it has been for a couple of years,” Smith said.
The seven cast members in the show include Tom Dierling, Rhonda Lucas, Mark Metzner, Leah Murphy, Gaby Neal, Carter Perry and Rose Vanden Eynden. The cast members each play multiple roles throughout the production. Over 30 actors, ranging from Cincinnati, Dayton and West Chester auditioned for the show in December.
Gaby Neal, a Liberty Twp. resident, plays three very different roles in the play. Neal said she was interested in the show, because she knew that it was a love story, but also that it was quirky in a “twilight zone’ kind of a way. Previously, Neal has been a part of other GHCT productions, such as “Oklahoma!” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“I read the script, and I loved it. It was an opportunity for me to stretch myself as an actor…I am able to experiment and have fun with the characters,” Neal said.
Rose Vanden Eynden from Sharonville, who plays two roles in the show, said the opportunity to create her characters is “challenging, but rewarding.” She was also a part of GHCT’s “The Addams Family” musical last year.
“The show revolves around a lot of different characters, who are in the process of falling in love, falling out of love, or somehow dealing with a love relationship in their lives. It is one of the things that attracted me to the show. It’s beautifully written. It’s very realistic. It’s hilariously funny, and it’s very touching – all in one show, which I think is very appealing to an audience,” Vanden Eynden said.
HOW TO GO
What: "Almost, Maine"
When: Thurs., Feb. 16 through Sun., Feb. 19. Show times are at 8 p.m. on Thurs., Fri., and Saturday. The show on Sunday will start at 2 p.m.
Where: Miami University Hamilton, 1601 University Blvd., Parrish Auditorium
Cost: Tickets are $17 each ($16 for students and seniors) when purchased online at www.ghctplay.com. (Plus $1 ticketing fee.) If available, tickets may be purchased at Will Call the day of the show. (Students must present a valid student ID, and seniors must be 60 and older.) Group tickets are available for $15 each. (Groups of 20 or more. Group tickets are only available by phone at (513) 737-PLAY.
For more info: www.ghctplay.com or (513) 737-PLAY for tickets.