By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Who do you call to heal a broken heart? Is it possible to recapture lost love? Do opposites actually attract? What happens when any of those scenarios play out?
Those are a few of the questions pondered in Almost, Maine. The McNary High School drama department is staging a three-night production of the award-winning play March 20-22. Curtain time is 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $5 at the door.
The play is a series of vignettes connected by the theme of love and all the joy and ache it bestows upon those who fall in. Each of the students who landed roles in the production is taking on two separate characters in different vignettes.
Senior Maddie Valish was first exposed to the play when she went to see a production at West Salem High School.
“I fell in love with it. When it was announced we would be doing it, I wanted to be involved,” Valish said.
In one vignette, Valish plays Gayle, a long-term girlfriend who begins to wonder if her lengthy courtship will ever be anything more. She makes a 180-degree turn for the second part.
“I play Hope, who is going to respond to a marriage proposal that she didn’t answer years before,” Valish said.
In one of the more gut-wrenching scenes, Where It Went, Emma LeDuc plays Marci and Nick Neddo plays Phil, a couple trying to figure out if their marriage can be saved.
“We love each other, but things are starting to fall apart. They’re trying to fix things, but it’s just not working,” Neddo said.
Even during rehearsals, the vignette has caused strong reactions.
“Our stage manager has bawled after it,” LeDuc said. “Everything you will go through or have been through is in this play.”
The play also plucks a deep chord for Cole Juran who confessed to tearing up at different points during the run up to opening night.
“It’s got so much heart in it showing all the different aspects of being in a relationship and being in love,” Juran said. “The heartbreak scenes hit hard.”
Juran’s roles include that of Dave in Seeing the Thing. He falls for tough girl Rhonda, played by Courtney Gregoire, and may have made a mistake in painting something for her to show his affection.
Gregoire, who transferred from Amity High School, said the play is more than a little reminiscent of her hometown.
“The characters just sound real, they’re a lot more like Amity than Keizer. They take their time and get to know each other. I love that we get to do that in this play,” Gregoire said.
In the exploration of its theme, the play offers a boatload of laughs in addition to its moments of sweetness and pain. That’s what drew Cory Bond to his roles.
In one of them, Bond plays Jimmy who crosses paths with a now-engaged ex, Sandrine, played by LeDuc.
“I’m kind of like sad sack. I’ve given up on love,” Bond said. “But, in the next one, I’m the best friend of another guy and we talk about how bad our dating lives are.”
Throughout it all, the play dabbles in the absurdist and magical realism. An actual heart might be mended onstage. Other characters might carry around bags of love.
“There’s a lot of literal use of language,” Juran said.
While the script lends itself to romantic comedy, Valish said there’s truly something in it for everyone.
“I feel like guys will fall in love with it, too. There are some funny parts that anyone will appreciate. It’ll pull you in,” she said.