Upper Arlington News

Love, laughter warm the night in Wellington School's Almost, Maine

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Love and laughter heat up a frigid winter in New England as the Northern lights hover in the sky on a magical night in Almost, Maine.

The play presented by the Wellington School is a series of nine vignettes "about the magic of love," said Upper School Director of Theatre Eleni Papaleonardos.

"It can be so easy to stop believing in magic, but this play invites the actors and the audience to remember that excitement and eagerness -- the highs and lows that come with love and giddiness that hits us when the impossible actually happens," she said.

She said the play is rated PG-13 for mature audiences.

Performances are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 1 at the Wellington School's Blanchard Performing Arts Center, 3650 Reed Road in Columbus.

Tickets are $8 per person and may be purchased online at wellington.org.

The actors in each vignette appear for only 10 minutes of their scene, rather than throughout the 90-minute production.

"For those 10 minutes, they are working in a much more intense way than many of the characters who might usually span an entire play," Papaleonardos said. "The scene work features some wonderful acting challenges and really requires the students to listen and connect with each other."

She said "all is not quite what it seems" in Almost, Maine.

"Residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways," she said.

Written by John Cariani, the play is "at times heartbreakingly beautiful and at times hysterically funny," Assistant Director Anne Hulthen said.

"Here in Almost, Maine, we witness love at its many stages; friends realize they may feel more than they previously thought, strangers find love, couples meet again after a long time apart and a marriage reaches a turning point," Hulthen said.

She said all the stories culminate in a "magic moment."

Junior Lillian Tyack said she plays Rhonda in the vignette called Seeing the Thing.

She said the character is "very masculine," which "is so different from me."

"I have to make sure that the masculinity doesn't seem forced while also showing that the character has a vulnerable side," she said.

Tyack said getting to know a character is her favorite part.

"I love sitting down and picking out all of the things that make them motivated and then I use that on the stage," she said. "In playing Rhonda, I need to make the audience realize she is a real person; her insecurities and her attitude aren't there out of thin air -- they have reasons for existing and I try to convey that as well as possible."

Senior Chris Jones plays Dave.

"I really like playing Dave because of how honest he is and how hard he tries," he said. "But sometimes it's difficult to be Dave because he certainly says and does things I wouldn't do in a normal situation."

Other cast members are Henry Bacha, Lucy Caborn, Keilah Causey, Julia Doran, Quinten Huchison, Zach Kauffman, Lucie Kirk, Zoe Mark, Kate Miller, Charis Nandor, Adrian Remnant, Halle Roberts, Nina Shamansky, Sarah Schmitz, Tova Seltzer, Will Taylor, Alex Tobin and Shabach Tyus.

"Parka People" in the play are Rachel Carr, Hamilton Green, Em Hammett, Pagie Harper, Sophie Hess, Khalil Jallaq, Daniel Kushnir and Becca Vrabel.

Papaleonardos said the sets for the play show "big sky and wide open spaces."

"All the scenes take place on the same night, in the middle of the deepest and coldest part of winter, all at 9 p.m.," she said. "Our set reflects the spaciousness of northern Maine with a mural painted by students of a winter forest. The set also includes the front of a house and the inside of several different locations."

She said the frequent school cancellations due to frigid temperatures in recent weeks cut deeply into her rehearsal schedule.

"We lost quite a few rehearsals due to snow and severe temperatures," she said. "The cast had to step up and make the most out of our shortened rehearsal period. I'm extremely impressed with their focus and commitment."

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