Romance in the New England snow
Co-director of Riverdale High play says her vision of 'Almost, Maine' is like 'Northern Exposure'
If youre looking for a romantic getaway, try taking a visit next week to a love-filled, mythical burg.
Playwright John Carianis Almost, Maine, Riverdale High Schools latest dramatic production, will take audiences north to a place thats almost a town and is almost in Canada, but not quite. Co-director Clara Hillier says there are about 300 people in this snowy village, and its a friendly place.
Its a lot like Northern Exposure (an early 90s TV show set in Alaska), Hillier says. Thats exactly what we have in mind.
In the play, different sets of characters engage in a series of romantic tête-à-têtes, all occuring at the same time: 9 p.m. on a Friday evening during a typical New England winter.
The play will actually take place at 7 p.m. Nov. 9-11, and the curtain will rise at Lakewood Center for the Arts, not at the high school. Itll just be Oregon cold, of course, but the actors will be bundled up in coats, scarves and knit hats for verisimilitude.
And though each scene has different characters, the audience may see some familiar faces. Co-director Heath Koerschgen says that during tryouts, he and Hillier were overwhelmed with boys but had too few girls, so the actresses doubled up on the female roles. Koerschgen says thats something a professional thespian might have to do, and he says the students are up to the challenge. Hes proud of his pupils and says his time with them has been rewarding.
To be able to work with people who are just now discovering (acting) is huge, because its part of developing the next generation of actors, he says. Its fun to see them start with a clean slate, and its fun to see how they build and discover.
He says hes proud of the confidence that grew in sophomore Trenton Morris after just a year in the Riverdale drama program.
I love working with Clara and Heath, Morris says.
He plays Dave in the scene Seeing the Thing, where he works to gain admittance into tough girl Rhondas house with one of those stare-at-it-until-you-see-the-thing paintings. Its not exactly clear what the subject of the piece is, but it doesnt really matter. (No spoiler alert here.)
Morris says each scene, like this one, is short but action-packed.
You get short bursts of time in different scenes, so you get to really experience a whole town in lots of wonderful and not-so-wonderful moments, he says.
Isabel Pereira (Rhonda) says she loves the style of the play.
It always keeps you interested, says Pereira, whos been performing in musicals since fourth grade.
Junior Lila Ford agrees that the play definitely possesses a unique approach.
It deals with unrealistic situations in a very real way, Ford says.
In one scene, Getting It Back, her character, Gayle, asks her boyfriend of 11 years, Lendall, to return her love, and she plans to give him his back as well. She hauls the love around in large bags.
She gave him all the love that she had and had none left for herself, Ford says.
Thats not the end of the scene, though.
Sophomore Logan Bundy, who plays Lendall, says hes gained so much from his time as an actor.
It helps a lot with public speaking and just being more open to people you dont know so well, Bundy says. So it can raise creativity, spark new ideas.
Koerschgen says while the actors may be learning and growing, they have a great deal to offer anyone who comes to see the show.
Some of the talent level these kids have at 17 years old is more than some of the adults Ive worked with, he says.
By Jillian Daley
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If you go
What: "Almost, Maine"
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 9-11
Where: Lakewood Center for the Arts, 368 S. State St., Lake Oswego
Cost: $10 adults, $7 students and seniors
More information: Visit bit.ly/1Qaa8kr.