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Baraboo High students to perform ‘Almost, Maine’

October 12, 2018

Much will be common about this weekend’s Baraboo High School play. For starters, the cast and crew are producing the most-produced play among North American high schools, “Almost, Maine.” For good measure, they’re staging in the school commons.

Although familiar to audiences – the local university staged it in 2011 – John Cariani’s series of interwoven vignettes exploring love and loss is anything but ordinary. It delivers both a shared experience and an individualized trip down memory lane, with scenes taking on nuances framed by actors’ – and spectators’ – personal experiences.

“I think audiences will see themselves in these small-town Maine characters who fall in and out of love,” director and BHS teacher Kari Nelson said, “and I think they’ll leave the theater renewed in the notion that life is good.”

The school’s new commons area will host performances Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. Nelson said “Almost, Maine” presented an opportunity to cast lots of students without asking too much of their time, as each scene is short.

Together they explore love from the first flicker of infatuation to the hopelessness of heartbreak. In turns comedic, romantic and absurd, this little play prods audiences to consider the big picture and their place in it.

“It is hysterical and heart-warming,” Nelson said. “Students love it.”

“Almost, Maine” marks BHS’ second consecutive fall play, following last year’s production of “Our Town,” after a decades-long absence of drama from the school’s list of extracurricular activities. The commons, expanded this fall as part of a school renovation project, are providing a temporary home to three small stages and two light towers. This production will feature the play’s original between-scenes music by Julian Fleisher.

“This cast of kids works well together, takes feedback like champs, is willing to risk on stage, and – important for this show – has excellent comic timing,” Nelson said.

Because it takes up a theme so common, and comes at it from so many angles, spectators can – depending on their own loves and losses – leave “Almost, Maine” having shared nearly the same experience. Almost.

“Audiences will enjoy the whimsical heart of this show,” Nelson said. “Its strain of magical realism adds a layer of fun. Audiences will also enjoy the fast-paced, clever dialogue and, in some scenes, the slapstick humor.”

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