2018-04-12 / Living

Popular, sometimes controversial play at Atherton Jr./Sr. High

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

Pete explains why Jeanette is not close to him with a snowball. Pictured (left to right) are Nick Hayward, as Pete, and Aaniyah Wills, as Jeanette. 
Photo by Tanya Terry Pete explains why Jeanette is not close to him with a snowball. Pictured (left to right) are Nick Hayward, as Pete, and Aaniyah Wills, as Jeanette. Photo by Tanya Terry BURTON — “Almost, Maine,” a very popular and sometimes controversial play, will be performed in the Atherton Jr./Sr. High School cafetorium April 13 and 14. Atherton Jr./Sr. High theatre director Shelli Hester Hyde selected it.

“It is a popular modern comedy with some new challenges for my cast and crew,” Hester Hyde said.

The play consists of several short scenes called vignettes related to love and loss and contains comedy.

“Each is a short romantic vignette between two people,” Hester Hyde said. “They are affected by the northern lights in a small wilderness town in Maine. Some of the vignettes are sad, most are uplifting. Cupid plays his hand throughout the play. I believe all of the scenes fit well together to create a fun and meaningful production.”

The play itself will be performed differently from the way the play has been done before.

“We have included the role of cupid as the one creating these situations,” Hester Hyde said. “We have tried to stay true to the genuine emotions of the play.”

Hester Hyde said the way the Atherton cast performs the play will also be unique.

“Our cast and crew are highly trained and talented,” she said. “They will bring this to the performances. I believe we produce a very high quality high school show.”

David Rochester, 16, who in in 11th grade and plays Jimmy, Steve, and Dave, said he felt adding comedy to a play about love and loss could put some people at ease. He said he liked his roles because he can be more diverse with his characters.

In October 2014, Maiden High School in North Carolina canceled a production of “Almost, Maine” after some parents and area churches complained about the play’s inclusion of a same-sex couple. The scene will be included in Atherton’s play.

“I personally feel like that they shouldn’t have canceled the performance,” Rochester said. “But, 2014 was a different time. Same sex marriage wasn’t legalized until June 2015. So, I could understand why it was canceled.”

Halee Gates, 17, who is in 12th grade, is the show’s stage manager and changed some of the blocking in the play.

“I think comedy in a play about love and loss is perfectly fine,” Gates said. “There needs to be some comic relief or some light-hearted tones to make the play enjoyable, rather than just straight up sad and depressing. For this play, I think the comedy is well placed and thought out.”

Gates said she likes “Almost, Maine” as a whole.

“I’ll admit, when I first read the script it seemed like an odd concept,” she said. “Now that I’ve seen it portrayed by the actors I work with, I think it’s a great show and shows deep concepts. It’s got the right amount of love and loss to make a strong show. We have strong actors that I believe are fully capable of making this show come to life.”

Gates said the scenes’ surprise endings, in her opinion, show love doesn’t always work out how we expect.

“Love can come from anyone at the most random of times and it can leave just the same,” she said. “Love is strange.”

Shows start at 7 p.m. each day. Tickets are $3 each or $10 for a family. A bake sale will be included, with all funds going to support future productions. Atherton’s Theatre Club is self-funded. The school is located at 3354 S. Genesee Road, and tickets will be available at the door.

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