Winter is coming — to the Umble Center, that is.The Goshen College Theater Department will continue this year’s “Season of Love and Light” with their production of “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani. It opens this Friday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m. and will run through Sunday, Nov. 24.
Almost, Maine is a fictional town that’s so far north, it’s almost not in the United States. On a cold, clear, winter night as the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, the town’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and hilarious ways.
“I think this show really reveals to the audience that relationships, friendships, love and community are never perfect,” said Bek Zehr, a junior music major. “It’s always important to communicate with one another and listen to each other’s needs.”
Directed by Doug Liechty Caskey, “Almost,” in its entirety, takes place over the same 10-minute period of time.
Nine separate scenes focus on several different characters. These scenes all build up to when the northern lights appear in the darkened sky.
“The audience gets to experience both the down-to-earth, ordinary conversations and happenings in various locations around town, all leading to a remarkably extraordinary nod from the cosmos,” Caskey said.
Zehr, who is the sound board operator for the show, has usually acted in on-campus plays. This is their first time working closely with sound design for a mainstage.
They and Jacob Claassen, a sophomore and sound designer, spent hours searching for a sound to represent the recurring aurora borealis.
“It sounds very fuzzy and almost like an alien sound that might be heard in movies. We wanted the northern lights sound to be pleasant, and this real-life sound was not,” Zehr said. “The [new] sound produced feels like it fills the space with a sound that humans cannot necessarily replicate. Combined with the amazing light design for the northern lights, the effect is REALLY incredible.”
The 10-person cast is comprised of Willa Beidler, a first-year; Jeremiah Sherrill, a sophomore; Kailey Rice, Lisa Rosado Rivera, Cara Wilson and Dali Rodriguez, juniors; and Ben Meyer Reimer, Ian Keim, Lauren Myers and Kyle Snyder, seniors. For Beidler and Snyder, this is their first time performing on the Umble stage.
“Being on the Umble stage for the first time definitely gives me an adrenaline rush whenever I step on stage,” said Snyder. “It’s a fresh new feel from theater in high school, and the people acting with and around me have truly made it all the more exciting. I will admit I was initially anxious about coming to a new space and messing something up backstage, since it’s more complex than my high school stage, but the friendliness of my cohorts has made it easy to become familiar with the surroundings and coming up to speed on how Goshen theater works.”
All of the actors are playing multiple characters, which presents a challenge onstage. But it’s a challenge that GC’s capable actors can rise to.
“Understanding the context around each character has helped make the reactions easier, but it definitely became a challenge to find ways to hold my body differently and even talk in a different tone so people wouldn’t think I was my other character in another situation,” Snyder said. “It also means taking time backstage to breathe and think about embodying the character and showcasing their quirks without being melodramatic.”
Actors and tech crew members alike have noted that this wintry tale will leave audience members with a lot to think about.
“People will go to great lengths to surpass obstacles when it comes to love. No matter what is in the way…when people have the feeling that something is right emotionally, other things suddenly don’t matter so much,” said Snyder.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students/seniors/GC employees. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Goshen College Box Office by contacting (574) 535-7566, firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.goshen.edu/tickets.
Tickets can also be purchased at the Umble Center box office one hour before the show.