- There are certain plays one can enjoy time after time. “Almost, Maine’ by
John Cariani is certainly one of them.
is Cariani’s first play, and it has already enjoyed more than
2,000 productions throughout the country. It is clever, funny, poignant
and appealing to anyone who has ever fallen in love or tried to keep a love
relationship alive and well after the initial phase, and that probably includes
all of us.
have seen good productions of this delightful piece at The Milwaukee Repertory
Theater, The Boulevard Theatre, the Lake Country Players and now at the
University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.
have done a good job of translating this unique script from page to stage. In
some instances, just a few characters played many roles. In this production, 18
actors each took one role. It was gratifying to see such enthusiasm on the part
of the students, including several alumni.
play is structured into nine vignettes, each about a relationship. Every segment
has a title of its own, though each drama takes place in the same small town in
the northernmost climes of Maine. The town is called Almost because the
inhabitants never got organized enough to incorporate it. Their lives pretty
much consist of work, hockey, bowling, ice skating, dancing, hanging out at the
local pub, and trying to find love with all its wonder, confusion, ambiguity and
is particularly endearing and creative about this piece is that Cariani often
concretizes the abstract, and, of course, love is one of those abstractions. He
has someone keeping the pieces of her broken heart in her purse, or uses a shoe
to represent what is missing in a relationship, or trash bags filled with love
that is being returned.
one of the vignettes intrigues us from first to last, but we will all have our
favorites depending on our personal experience.
Some are primarily sad, some very funny and some are quite joyful, but
all keep us entertained throughout. Each lasts about 10 minutes. We don’t want
some of them to end, but we’re always looking forward to the next one. The
minimum of props makes transitions easy and swift.
the actors rose to the occasion, but several stood out among the rest, including
Luke Witte as Pete, Anthony Kolp as Jimmy, Chad Novell as Steve, Daniel Sponder
as Randy, Zach Ursem as Chad, Stacy Madson as Marci, Eric Madson as Phil, Sara
Sarna as Hope and Sarah Giencke as Rhonda.
simple set designed by Steve Decker served as fitting background with its pine
trees, its snow, its suggestion of a house or some kind of inside setting.
Sandra Renick, with her usual expertise, directed the students toward
in all, “Almost, Maine” is a very pleasant experience. I’ve always been
disappointed in the turnout at the lovely Lunt-Fontanne Auditorium at
UW-Waukesha. It’s easily accessible and it offers quality productions. It’s
a mystery to me.
Maine” is staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, 1500 N.
University Drive. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, visit