South brings ‘Almost, Maine’ to the stage

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 19, 2014

 Grosse Pointe South students Jalin Rumely and Eva Doherty rehearse a scene in “Almost, Maine” for this weekend’s performances.

Grosse Pointe South students Jalin Rumely and Eva Doherty rehearse a scene in “Almost, Maine” for this weekend’s performances.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe South

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GROSSE POINTE FARMS — With just days until opening night, cast and crew bustled about Grosse Pointe South’s auditorium with the type of frenzy that only a thespian might appreciate.

Drama and English teacher Meaghan Dunham moved from one task to another, explaining to one student how she needs to braid her hair and helping another find the perfect accessories to fit her character.

South will spotlight various stories of falling in and out of love when the students raise the curtain for opening night of “Almost, Maine” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Grosse Pointe South auditorium. The show will run each night from Nov. 20-22.

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

“It’s charming,” Dunham said of the play. “It is one of the most magical, accessible pieces of contemporary theater that I’ve seen in the past decade.”

It’s such a popular piece that both she and Sean Kifer at North wanted it last year, but Kifer announced his plans first, so Dunham decided she would do it this year.

The play offers opportunities for many actors to take part. For instance, Dunham has students with little to no experience on stage and seniors who have been in most or all of the high school’s performances.

Because the play is performed in separate vignettes, she said all of the scenes are packed with rich material.

“There’s no stars, no bit parts; everyone has a great role,” Dunham said.

The students love it, too.

“They completely bought in,” she said.

The students have been rehearsing since mid-September, but they only needed to rehearse on the nights that their vignette was in rehearsal.

That gave students more time to take part in the other activities in their lives instead of a typical play or musical in which rehearsal is every night for everyone, Dunham explained.

David Gilbert is a senior with a number of performances under his belt during his high school career.

He plans to take this experience with him to college, where he is looking to minor in musical theater.

As for his time on “Almost, Maine,” he said he likes how each scene has “it’s own take on how you fall in or out of love.”

He also enjoys how love is represented in many different ways, instead of just someone saying, “I love you.”

Senior Eva Doherty is used to working her magic behind the scenes as stage manager and student director for most shows, but she decided to act this time around.

“This is my last opportunity for me to be in a show,” she said.

Doherty, who wants to major in film directing and screen writing at college, thinks the writing makes this play special.

“The scenes are really short, and you really fell in love with everything that went on, and you really liked the characters,” she said.

John Leo, another senior, appreciates how this is a different type of show than he’s done in the past.

“Every show has had its own vibe,” he said.

He likes that he gets to test his limits, as this is a different type of piece than he’s done in the past.

Leo plans to take what he’s learned in high school to college, where he plans to study to be a filmmaker.

“Ever since I’ve been 5 years old, I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker,” he said.

Leo believes “Almost, Maine” has different components that will draw in all types of audiences.

“Anyone who has experienced any romance in their life at all will be able to relate to at least one of the skits,” he said. “There’s something for everyone.”

Tickets for the play are $10 for adults, and $8 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased at Posterity: A Gallery, 17005 Kercheval, or at the door.

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