Northwood Theatre Arts explore the power of love and loss

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Northwood’s Theatre Arts department put on a riveting performance of the play “Almost, Maine” from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16.

“Almost, Maine” is a collections of vignettes set in the town of Almost, Maine, tied together by a common theme of love and loss. These vignettes aren’t your typical romance stories; they are full of well-timed humor and powerful emotions that made each story’s message especially poignant.

“‘Almost, Maine’ was a very emotionally tiring show,” cast member junior Ian Gibson said. “Other shows like our spring show last year ‘Peter and the Starcatcher,’ were mainly physically tiring. This show was very genuine and real, which can be hard to act sometimes.”

A particularly comedic scene involved many subtle, and not-so-subtle, innuendos, and featured Dave (senior Saranyan Uthayakumar) trying to get to first base with Rhonda (senior Colleen Moore). Tensions rise as Rhonda attempts to decipher the painting Dave gives her. After the two try to “trick” the painting (you gotta trick it!) multiple times, Dave finally confesses to Rhonda that he loves her, which sparks the beginning of a beautiful new relationship.

Another vignette starred Steve (Uthayakumar) and Marvalyn (senior Aeryn Black) meeting in a laundromat, where they start out as strangers but quickly form a bond at the push of an ironing board. And while it did teach an important lesson about the dangers of ironing boards, the story also conveyed subtle messages about the reality of being in an abusive relationship.

One vignette featured two women, Shelly (Black) and Deena (Moore) competing over who had a worse date. After coming to the conclusion that they were both completely unsatisfied by their dates, they realize that the only dependable people they know are each other, after which they begin to fall, quite literally, in love.  

A unique aspect of the play was that its relatable and optimistic stories really struck a chord with the audience.

“In these challenging times, we were so happy to bring such a magical, well-written, witty, unpredictable and sweet show to life,” Northwood drama teacher Danyelle Dunavold said. “But the most unique thing about this play has been the incredible verbal reactions we received from our audiences with every single performance. I have never experienced the amount of audible gasps, sighs, applause and laughter we experienced during this show. It’s as though this show was created at the perfect time for our community.”

Gibson said he was surprised by that level of audience engagement, but felt amazing that the play was able to extract that type of reaction.

“I didn’t really expect the reactions we all got,” Gibson said. “It felt incredible that we were able to put the audience through an emotional rollercoaster. When you can make the audience react like that, your show must be great.”

Work has begun on this year’s musical, “The Little Mermaid,” which students can look forward to watching in January.