Audience gets up close and personal for fall play

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 4, 2013

 Grosse Pointe North junior Katelyn Carroll and freshman William Fishwick rehearse a scene for the fall play.

Grosse Pointe North junior Katelyn Carroll and freshman William Fishwick rehearse a scene for the fall play.

Photo by April Lehmbeck


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — When Grosse Pointe North students take the stage for their fall play later this month, they’ll face something they don’t normally see in the darkness of a theater — the expressions of the audience. 

That’s because the audience will be on the same stage as they perform “Almost, Maine.”

“It’s going to be very cool,” said Kristin Duus, one of the producers. “We’re kind of doing it in, like, a theater in the round. It’s going to be very different.”

Director Sean Kifer is directing a North play for the first time but has directed the plays at Parcells Middle School for the last eight years and built up a highly successful drama program at the middle school. He is enthusiastic about the upcoming performances. 

“We want to do something a little bit smaller and more intimate … just to give the kids a different experience,” Kifer said.

Instead of a large theater setting, this performance will seat 160 people.

“I fully expect to sell out every night,” Kifer said.

“Almost, Maine” was written by John Cariani. It is comprised of 10 individual scenes with the common theme of love.

Each scene has two to three characters and takes place in the fictional town of Almost, Maine.

“They all take place on the exact same night,” Kifer said.

Having only a couple of characters on stage at a time allows Kifer to hone in on acting skills, helping individual students learn and grow through the experience.

The cast has been working on this performance since casting last June.

Kifer also chose this play for the quality of the writing.

“It’s incredibly well-written,” Kifer said. “It’s very natural. It’s the way we speak.”

Once again, Technical Director Dan Vicary has weaved his magic onstage for set creation. The set is all white, including the floor — minimalist to keep the focus on the performances.

Each scene ends with an aurora borealis (northern lights) effect.

“We thought that it would pick up better on white and look pretty cool,” Kifer said.

Kifer wanted to recognize Vicary for his work, and lighting designer P.J. Veltri for the work on the play’s lighting.

Each scene also has one item highlighted in red, which represents a key part of the love story in each scene.

Another important piece in the show is costuming. Sheri Cam is in charge of making sure they have the right pieces for the show. She’s a veteran at this type of work.

Cam said this is a nice show.

“We don’t usually do a love story for high school,” she said, adding that it isn’t a piece that’s emotionally beyond their grasp.

Kifer isn’t the only one excited to see this play take the stage. The students in the play also are looking forward to it.

Senior Pearce Reickert likes the all-white effect with the red object and that they’ll be closer to the audience for this performance, saying that it will be more like movie acting.

“Come see the show,” Reickert said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

Senior Analisa Guido said she also likes the intimate setting with the audience.

Others agreed.

“They’ll be more involved with it, too, being close,” freshman William Fishwick said.

While seniors Guido and Reickert are veterans of the stage, others are gearing up for their first major roles, like sophomore Audrey Cam.

“This is my first speaking role,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting.

“I never had to know what the emotions behind what I was saying were,” she said of her past, smaller roles.

Sophomore Andrew Nurmi was excited to work with Kifer again.

“When I found out Mr. Kifer was directing, I was thrilled,” he said.

Junior Katelyn Carroll said they’re learning a lot from working on this play.

“We’re learning different types of acting and different techniques,” she said.

Carroll said she has been performing in shows since eighth grade “because my parents said I was kind of dramatic.”

Freshmen Grace Guthrie and Lolly Duus are enjoying working with the cast on this play.

“We’re getting along really well and almost finishing each other’s sentences,” Guthrie said.

“We have a lot of fun together,” Duus said.

“I’m just really excited for the show, and I hope a lot of people come see it and enjoy it,” Duus said.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20-21 and 3 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Grosse Pointe Performing Arts Center, 707 Vernier.

Tickets can be purchased at