‘Almost, Maine’ takes PHS stage

“Almost Maine” is a romantic comedy written by John Cariani and is soon to be produced by the Drama Department.
The play opens Nov. 20 and closes Nov. 22 and is approximately two hours long.
Drama Department Director P.J. Sirl describes the basis of the play “Almost Maine.”
“It has been a lot of fun. One of the interesting things about it is [that it] only has 18 actors. The play itself is structured so that there are nine little scenes, each one is about 10 minutes long. They all take place at about 8:50 [p.m.] and they all end at 9 [p.m.] in a little town called Almost,” Sirl said.
Actor Danielle Locken, who plays the character Rhonda, explains the main theme of the play. During the play, Rhonda discovers that her best friend is in love with her and has to cope with it.
“The whole play is about love. The play is a series of [nine] scenes each about 10 minutes. They are happening simultaneously. It is all the good sides and bad sides of love. There is a couple that realizes that they should probably get divorced…So to me it really just shows that love is not all fun and games, it is real and it is gritty,” Locken said.
One benefit of the play’s format is the ability for Sirl to work with each individual actor.
“One of the interesting things about [the play] for me is the nine little two-person scenes. I can work with individuals and I can create these little moments. I told the kids to approach it, the same way I am, with the idea that it is not unlike a really good record album. Each song is individually wonderful but you put them all together and it is like a great bigger piece,” Sirl said.
The different practice schedule is described by Locken.
“Usually every day after school we meet for an hour [or] two. With this play, [as] there [are] only two people in each scene. You have one day a week, where you will show up with your partner and you will do your 10 minute scene for two hours. And that is really nice because you get very focused attention. It is also different though because you do not get to interact with your theater family as much,” Locken said.
Actor Shaylyn Smith plays the character Hope in “Almost Main.” Hope is returning to her home town of Almost after spending time in college.
“Rehearsals have been going great, I love my partner and I have gotten close to new people as well as working with people I already love. I have always loved being on stage. Some people have sports or do debate but I have plays,” Smith said. “I was in ‘Grease,’ ‘The Tempest’ and ‘The Jungle Book.’ I love being on stage and sharing moments with people I love. The department is a family that takes care of each other and helps us all grow as not only actors but as people.”
Locken talks about her experience with portraying the character Rhonda.
“Rhonda is in the last scene of the play. She is a big tomboy who has never been in love before and discovers her best friend is in love with her. It is really scary,” Locken said. “I wanted to get cast as [her] so badly but once I got the role I realized that, ‘I do not think I can do Rhonda. I am a super girly girl. I have never played a funny character before, I always do really serious [characters].’ The experience has opened my eyes, because I have been able to step outside of myself and completely embody a different person.”