The ensemble cast of Almost, Maine includes Steven Amaral and Shelby Saumier. (Photo: Stephanie Conrad)
A midwinter night’s dream unfolds for the residents of Almost, Maine, who are finding romance, losing out on love and pursuing hope as Northern Lights dance in the sky.
Comprising nine vignettes, John Cariani’s comedic play has been described as “Thornton Wilder crossed with The Twilight Zone,” and Professor Michelle Felten is bringing it to Sacramento State’s Playwrights’ Theatre. Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 23-26 and Nov. 1-2; 2 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 3; and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30-31.
One episode involves a repairman who finds a woman camping in his yard. Shelby Saumier plays the camper, Glory, and says, “He just stumbles upon this girl and he’s captivated by her, but she’s kind of a mess.”
“But in a cute way,” adds Steven Amaral, who plays East, the repairman. “When she talks about her broken heart, he feels he can fix that.”
Another vignette involves a man who can’t feel pain, while a third conveys the trials of a man and woman ready for romance despite being covered in layers of parkas and long johns. “Their ensuing struggle to get beyond the long underwear results in a hilarious on-stage strip,” says Felten.
Six actors play 19 parts, and Felten acknowledges that it’s rather demanding for the actors. “Part of the challenge of the play is having the audience realize they are all different people,” she says. “I think it’s an excellent challenge for our students.”
Saumier has created histories for each of her roles to make it easier to get into character. “Before I go into a scene, I think of that backstory and apply it to what I’m about to do,” she says.
Playwrights’ Theatre is a flexible space, and for Almost, Maine, Felten says they will create a winter’s night complete with stars and the Northern Lights. “The play takes place during the aurora borealis, so it will be shifting and shimmering through the evening, with the whole production bringing to life this very romantic, beautiful feeling,” she says. “Sac State students will love this production. It makes for the perfect date night – romantic, poignant and hilariously funny.”
Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. stagings are $8 general, $5 for children. All other performances are $12 general, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for children. Tickets are available at the Sac State Ticket office, (916) 278-4323 or www.csus.edu/hornettickets.