“Almost Maine” Is a Heartwarming Story Set Under the Northern Lights

A preview of Abington High School Drama Club’s production


Abington High School Drama Club presents the romantic comedy “Almost Maine” on Thursday, January 23 and Friday, January 24, 2020. Sixteen student actors will be performing in this Cariani play, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

This Thursday and Friday, Jan. 23 and 24, Abington High School Drama Club will be performing “Almost Maine” in the auditorium at 7:30 p.m. 

Pullquote Photo

It’s really a play about discovery and the exploration of relationships and what brings us together as people, even in somewhat extraordinary circumstances.

— Steve Shannon

“Almost Maine” is a play by John Cariani, comprising of nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote and mythical Almost-Town called Almost, Maine. Cariani is not just a playwright. He is also an American actor best known as the forensic Julian Beck in “Law & Order.”

For those not familiar with the playwright, Cariani also wrote two other plays called “Love/Sick” and “Last Gas.” “Love/Sick” takes place on a Friday night in an alternate suburban reality. It is a darker cousin of “Almost Maine” and explores the pain and joy that comes with being in love.

Drama director Steve Shannon chose “Almost Maine” for a few reasons. He said, I had another director lined up to direct a play called ”Our Town,” but they had taken a full-time teaching position in another town and were unable to stay on. I wasn’t as passionate about that show, so I decided to switch to ”Almost, Maine.”

Shannon said, “I really enjoy the material,” when asked why he switched to this one. Another reason “Almost Maine” was chosen was that “I felt it was a good fit for our students who have such busy schedules. It involves nine partner scenes. I only had to rehearse students two at a time. This approach really allowed us to dig in and deconstruct each scene,” Shannon said.

The genre and plot is one many will like. “It’s written in the style of a romantic comedy, so it has its light moments as well as some more dramatic moments too. It’s really a play about discovery and the exploration of relationships and what brings us together as people, even in somewhat extraordinary circumstances,” Shannon said.

Steve Shannon, press release, fair use
“Almost Maine” is a romantic comedy set in a town called Almost, Maine, a town that is so far North it almost is not in the United States. It is almost in Canada. The play’s setting is one cold, clear, winter night, as the Northern Lights hover in the star-filled sky above. The set design is by Henry Beckvold and Denise Feeney, with lights provided by Nathan Fogg-DeSisto.

The opening music in the production is the real original music that really gives the opening the right ambiance. It ties in with the snowy setting. 

The play features 16 student high school actors. Four of the cast members sat down for an interview during dress rehersal. They are senior Yazan Zaidan, juniors Lyla Blanchard and Brendan Remillard, and sophomore Will Charbonnier

Jernegan: How are you liking your experience with “Almost Maine” so far?

  • Blanchard: It’s been so much fun being involved in a full-length play, and an experience diving into my character.
  • Charbonnier: I’m enjoying this so far. I’m liking the scene I’m in and seeing my friends at rehearsals.
  • Zaidan: I’m enjoying it a lot. My cast mates are great and Mr. Shannon is a very good director.

Jernegan: Are you excited about your role, and what are you looking forward to in your role? 

  • Blanchard: Yes, I’m very excited about my role. Since my scene starts the play, I’m very excited to set the tone for the whole show. 
  • Charbonnier: [I’m] very excited about my role. I’m especially excited about getting hit in the head with an ironing board.
  • Remillard: I do like my role. It’s a scene where two best friends (both male) fall in love. So, I am very excited to present this usually controversial topic and turn it into something very special. 
  • Zaidan: I’m looking forward to the challenge and working with such talented people.

 Jernegan: What are other aspects you are looking forward to?

  • Blanchard: I’m most looking forward to learning a lot from the other performers in the show. [During the audition] I was not confident in my acting ability. It’s been challenging working through my doubts during each rehearsal. 
  • Charbonnier: I’m looking forward to seeing the audience’s reaction to the show.
  • Remillard: I’m looking forward to the feeling of seeing the audience for the 1st time on stage.
  • Zaidan: I’m looking forward to my friends seeing me.

Shannon hopes that the audience “will enjoy all of it.” He added, “I know they will appreciate the work the student actors have done and I hope that they will be able to relate to the material and perhaps recognize a little of themselves in each of the characters and scenes.” 

Tickets are $7 for students and senior citizens and $10 for adults. Tickets are available at the door only and all seating is general admission. Tickets purchased in the fall will be honored either night.