February 19, 2016 by Elizabeth Hoffman
Drexel University’s Co-op Theater Program celebrated the month of love with its Winter production of “Almost, Maine,” written by playwright and Tony-nominated actor John Cariani. The show opened Feb. 12 in the Black Box Theater to a sold-out house.
“Almost, Maine” tells nine separate short stories that take place in a small, disorganized area of northern Maine on a cold and snowy night. Each scene tells a different story of being in love, from dumped to unrequited to replaced, they all share a common theme on the struggles of love.
“Almost, Maine” sends many messages that are relevant in society today. It shows that love has no boundaries by incorporating stories of homosexual, interracial and mentally disabled couples. These very serious and important messages had the audience near tears, but also kept people laughing via comic relief.
“Going into it I didn’t really know anything about it,” senior entertainment and arts management major James Capik said.
“It was really funny. I thought it got too real at some points, but overall it was really well done,” he finished.
One scene tells the story of two parents, Phil and Marci, struggling to make each other happy and devote their attention to one another. In the end, they admit that they have fallen out of love with each other.
“When I play the part of Phil, the emotional involvement that the part requires is incredibly gratifying in its difficulty,” freshman Matt Demetrides said.
The set is designed to make the audience feel as though they were in the town of Almost, with a billboard welcoming you to the town placed behind the audience seating. The floor and props are painted in blues and whites to represent the snow-covered setting and machines are used to make frost and snow for the outdoor scenes. Lights are hung above the audience and the stage to represent stars and the Northern Lights.
“Though it may look simple, there are so many moving parts that I could not have done without the cast and crew,” stage manager Charlie Fraser said.
Two Drexel students and one alumnus performed live music for the production during scene changes. The combination of the bass, accordion, guitar and cello added to the sorrowful or happy endings of the stories.
“The three musicians worked with the music director and composer really well,” alumnus Mari Ma said.
“He gave us the freedom to explore different musical choices and it was really rewarding as a musician to see it pay off and add to the production,” he continued.
“Almost, Maine” was also performed Feb. 18 and will be performed again Feb. 19 at 8 p.m., with the final performance a matinee at 2 p.m. Feb. 20. The Co-op Theater Company also has many other events coming up including the Winter Cabaret and New Works Festival in March, as well as its spring production of the musical “Little Shop of Horrors” in May.