By Suzanne Birrell
Almost, Maine written by John Cariani is the
Our Town of the 21
st century. If you haven't seen it, you should. Go with your best friend or significant other and you'll find yourself bumping shoulders as you recognize yourself. It's a magical play presented in a whimsical way.
Almost, Maine is series of nine vignettes about relationships- how they start, how they end, how they were missed. We laugh and then we almost cry at the unexpected turns and surprise endings of life and falling in love, some ending happily ever after, some missed, and some just ending.
The production directed by Martin Papazian and now showing at the Hudson features an all-star stellar cast. If you want to go somewhere to see lots of TV celebrities in one spot, on stage and in the audience, go see this show. (It's a perfect venue for the working actor.) The show could technically be done with as few as four actors, but is thoroughly more entertaining with 19 separate individuals playing the 19 roles in the nine vignettes.
The Prologue, featuring Laura Marie Steigers
(Jilted, Riddance, Astigmatism, Post) and Cameron Fife was perfectly timed and enhanced with music and sounds and silences. We enjoyed the show before it started. We laughed before the first line, "I love you," and thus a sweet evening began.
The set was wonderfully designed to move easily from scene to scene and the music was perfectly chosen.
, featuring Martin Papazian (Director,
Jarhead) and Natalie Avital (
The Bridge, Private Practice, Criminal Minds), was both delightful and ridiculous (isn't love both delightful and ridiculous?) I was so drawn in, I almost turned around when they saw the northern lights. I had to remind myself that I was, in fact, in a theatre.
Sad & Glad, featuring Alex Desert (Swingers), Tyne Stecklein (Burlesque, True Blood, DWTS), and Misa Moosekian (
Spring Awakening), took a broken heart and a stupid mistake on a journey to a happy ending.
This Hurts, featuring Presciliana Esparolini (
Ray Donovan, Stalker, Beverly Hills Cop (pilot), American Horror Story, Extremities, Almost Maine, Castle, Criminal Minds...) and Devin Crittenden
(Disaster Movie, Chasing Mavericks) reminded us of the transforming power of love. The blows seemed real to me.
Getting it back, featuring Peter Breitmayer (
Fargo) and Samantha Sloyan (
Scandal), was symbolic of the measure of love. It reminded me of something my father used to say, "Both sides have to give 90%." There was a full arc in this little vignette, the actors were committed to the seriousness of the silly and yet I almost cried at the happy ending.
, featuring Travis Myers (
Revenge, General Hospital, Sharkskin) and John Lacy (
Sons of Anarchy, Psyche, Rissoli & Isles) is the controversial segment of the series. Because of this comic rendition of falling in love, the play has been banned in some schools. We, however, laughed heartily at the events as they transpired before us. And I ask, who hasn't felt love for their best friend?
Where it Went, featuring Allison Tolman (
Fargo) and Dan Warner (
Criminal Minds, Mad Men), was a journey thru the ups and downs and ins and outs of relationship. When the shoe fell, not everybody got the joke, but someone in the audience filled in the blanks. The transitions in this up and down emotional roller coaster were very nicely performed.
Story of Hope, featured Alison Tolman (
Fargo) and Steve Fite (
Chicago Fire, Finding Kate). There was a sense of mystery in this story of love too late, the chance missed, the road not taken.
Seeing the Thing, featuring Nell Teare
(Memphis, As Worlds Collide, Restraint) and Lester Purry
(Dead Space 2, The Bookie, The Remake) was absurd and over the top fun. A story of patience and the attraction of opposites ended with a multi-layered strip tease to happily ever after.
The evening ended as it began with Laura Marie Steigers and Cameron Fife in a silent moment of magic, a journey of love taken by the characters and the audience alike that ended happily ever after-a most satisfying evening of theatre.
Almost, Maine is a romantic evening, the perfect gift for the holiday season. I recommend dinner for two, a single rose, and
Thursdays thru Sundays thru December 21st.
THE HUDSON MAINSTAGE THEATRE
6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90038
General admission: $25.00
ALMOST, MAINE By Playwright John Cariani, Directed by Martin Papazian
Photographs by Dan Warner Photography
Image #1 - "The Prologue" Cast: Laura Steigers and Marty Papazian
Image # 2 - "Getting It Back" Cast: Peter Breitmayer and Samantha Sloyan
Image #3 - "They Fell" Cast: John Lacy and Travis Myers
Image #4 - "Seeing The Thing" Cast: Nell Teare and Lester Purry