"Almost, Maine" may be the most produced show you've never seen. And the Auburn Players Community Theatre hopes you'll change that this weekend — in spite of all the other shows you could see from your couch instead.
John Cariani's 2004 play consists of nine short pieces about love and loss, all set in the made-up town of the show's title. Full of situational humor, the show spans many segments in the life cycle of love, from its awkward high school beginnings to its solemn elderly ends.
Bob Frame, who's co-directing this weekend's show with Jen Derbyshire, said the Players chose "Almost, Maine" precisely because of how many opportunities it offers. Not only did it allow Frame and Derbyshire to split directing duties five to four, the show also allowed the Players to cast almost everyone who auditioned for its 19 parts, Frame said.
"I was looking for something to get a lot of people involved," he said. "It's a big show that brings a lot of people on stage."
It's for those same reasons that "Almost, Maine" topped Shakespeare's 400-years-older "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the most-produced play in North American high schools in 2010, according to Dramatics magazine. Still, Frame said, many of the performers who auditioned for the Auburn Players' production hadn't heard of the show prior.
"There were more laughs than anything else at the first read-through," he said.
Frame said the Players used the auditioners' personalities to match them to their parts, such as the snowmobilers who start a relationship after coming inside from the trails all suited up, or the older woman who comes to Almost to say goodbye to her husband in sight of the Aurora Borealis.
The atmospheric light show is also the only local color in the "Almost, Maine." Otherwise, Frame said, it could take place just about anywhere over the course of a day.
Frame, who also sits on the Players' board of directors, said they hope "Almost, Maine" marks a transition point, a chance to rebuild the company. As TV binging and video games have come to dominate people's attention, he said, the Players have been sticking to smaller shows the last few years.
New board members and the success of summer's "Avenue Q" production helped position the company for an upswing, Frame said. And with its huge cast and quirky humor, he continued, "Almost, Maine" should be cause for people to once again leave their screens for a few hours this weekend.
"It's a fun evening with a relatable, different type of humor," he said. "For the most part, they're funny looks at love."