The 'Maine' Event
At a time when arts programs are being cut from public school systems all over North Carolina, folks in Watauga County should be proud of how our community is supporting the arts in our schools.
We should also be proud at how those arts programs excel when compared to others. For instance, the Watauga High School Playmakers theater group is consistently rated one of the highest in the state and usually brings home loads of awards from regional, state and Southeast theater competitions.
Theater instructor Sarah Miller is currently prepping her students for the N.C. Theatre Conference High School Play Festival, to be held Friday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. at Kings Mountain. The WHS Playmakers will be presenting the new play “Almost, Maine.”
Before they go to the competition, however, the Playmakers will present “Almost, Maine” at WHS on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. at the WHS auditorium. Tickets are $5 per person.
Presented as a series of vignettes featuring one or two couples, “Almost, Maine” can be presented with as few as four actors or as many as 19. The WHS cast for the show includes high school actors Kaitlin Felts, Wiley Morgan, Lizzie Zimmerman, Stephen Schmal, Julia O’Connor, Jordan Thomas, Zaric Eisenberg, Katelyn Callahan, Casey Courtney, Morgan Story, Jenna Derrick, Robert Seagle, Celeste Dekeyzer, Rahne Avant, Sarah McGuire, Alicia Elliott, Alex Wireback and Haylie Price. The show is directed by WHS instructor Miller.
“The play is all about relationships,” actress Morgan Story said. “It’s not really a romantic comedy, but it does have its lighter moments. It shows a wide range of relationships from people of all ages.”
The student actors said “Almost, Maine” would be rated PG if it were a movie. “It deals with adult situations, but it is not raunchy or risque,” actor Wiley Morgan said.
The students said that they were not worried about bringing a drama to the NCTC competition and having to compete against comedies or musicals.
For Miller, this is her 17th trip to the regional competitions, the last 10 of which have been with students at Watauga. This year, she is bringing students from her honors acting class, one of 12 drama classes offered at WHS.
“The regionals usually consist of 80 schools with as many as 100 productions presented in two days,” Miller said. “It’s a great experience, because the students all support each other’s works, and we get to be judged by theater professionals.”
Written by John Carini, “Almost, Maine” is new yet timeless. In 2002, it was developed at the Cape Cod Theatre Project and later had its world premiere with the Portland (Maine) Stage Company in 2004. It was the most successful play in Portland Stage’s 32-year history, with a completely sold out run.
The Wall Street Journal named “Almost, Maine” one of the best regional theater productions of the 2004-05 season, and it had its off-Broadway opening in the winter of 2005-06.
Since then, it has been produced hundreds of times in the United States, Canada, South Korea, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Germany.