Photo: KHS students Emily Laudont, as Marvalynn, and Creston Saylors, as Steve, practice at a rehearsal for “Almost, Maine.” The production took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Kaneland High School. Courtesy photos
Weekend play draws hundreds to the town of ‘Almost’
KANELAND—Christina Staker last weekend made her directorial debut with Kaneland High School’s production of “Almost, Maine,” a modern-day play that has been performed by many high schools across America.
Staker, a KHS English teacher, called the John Cariani-penned play “a success.”
A total of 17 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, performed the show on the auditorium stage last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. According to Staker, between 60 to 100 people attended the performances each night.
Sunday featured the lowest audience turnout, mainly due to the tornado breakout that caused severe damage to parts of Illinois and its surrounding states.
“It was sunshine at times,” Staker said. “And then downpouring at other times. I think a lot of people were probably scared off by the (tornado) warnings.”
After Staker consulted with the assistant principal, auditorium manager and technical director, it was decided that the show would go on.
KHS senior Emily Laudont played the role of Marvalyn, a character Laudont described as “defiant.”
“I think all of our work came together,” Laudont said. “From what I heard from audience reaction—from afterwards and friends that came and saw it—they said they really liked it.”
Volunteers worked the box office and sold concessions like candy, homemade cookies and packaged Oreos and Chips Ahoy. They also handed out programs and ushered folks to their seats.
The stage transformed into a mid-winter wonderland of real branches and a sparkling canvas of snow, a laundromat and a bar that featured a donated moosehead.
“Almost, Maine” had a series of nine vignettes, or short plays, that ranged between 10 to 15 minutes a piece. The scenes consisted of mostly two actors featured at a time.
“Almost, Maine” is a story that takes place in a town called Almost, where real life mixes with figurative ideas of love and loss.
“It really appeals to a wide range of audience,” Staker said. “There’s stories that it could either relate to yourself or somebody (you know) who is that person in life.”
Students played adult-aged roles during scenes that depicted different messages.
“Some of (the scenes) appeal to parents and marriage,” Staker said. “And how we tend to stop paying attention to each other, because life gets in the way. Or how we don’t often think about the other person’s feelings in a situation.”
KHS senior Maddie Heinzer played the married role of Marci, a 30-something woman featured in the “Where it Went” vignette.
Heinzer’s one-word description of the character was “stressed.” In order to play the role, she did her homework.
“I looked at neighbors that I have who have multiple kids and juggle around,” Heinzer said. “Like, my mom is a stay-at-home mom. So she has to deal with stuff with the kids. And then my dad works. So I think it’s kind of a common situation in many couples, where they don’t really pay attention to each other anymore, unfortunately.”
Magical happenings occurred in Almost. A shoe drops from the sky. A flash of green illustrates the Aurora Borealis.
Sounds of a car starting, and a snowmobile over yonder, can be heard.
And the play’s original soundtrack provided what Staker called “mood music.”
KHS student Taylor Tindall played Ginette, a character who travels the world to get back to the bench of where the one she loves—Pete, played by Dillon Lynn—was last with her.
Snow falls when the couple reunites.
Clare Laudont, mom of Emily Laudont, sat in the audience and appreciated the play.
“I was really impressed,” Clare said.
Meanwhile, KHS students are looking forward to their next production—a musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which will debut in the spring.
Staker will direct that one, as well.
“I’m looking forward to doing a musical,” she said.