BWW Review: ALMOST, MAINE Exudes Sweetness at the Redhouse

BWW Review: ALMOST, MAINE Exudes Sweetness at the Redhouse
Laura Austin and John Bixler in the Redhouse Arts Center production of Almost, Maine. Photo by Genevieve Fridley.

Syracuse's Redhouse Arts Center starts the new year off strong with John Carciani's Almost, Maine. The sweet, intimate, and thought-provoking play marks the directorial debut of Steve Hayes who has brought together six versatile actors to beautifully capture the experience of falling in and out of love.

Each of the love stories take place in the fictional location of Almost, Maine. Almost, known for its northern lights, is very simple and laid back. It not actually a town because its inhabitants were never quite organized enough to officially make it a town.

Since the show is comprised of small snip-its of love stories, all of the characters never completely come together. That being said, it's implied that everyone knows each other. A talented cast, under Hayes' detailed direction, brings each relatable, special, and intimate love story to life.

The artistic and storytelling elements come together beautifully in this very intimate production presented in Redhouse's smaller theater (Theatre 2). Marie Yokoyama's lighting effortlessly helps captures the emotion of each story. Shane Cinal's set design enables the play to flow smoothly even with so many different stories. Donnie Williams' costumes allow the actors to transition from character to character with ease - and each costume choices perfectly reflects the different "types" that exist in this snowy place.

The cast includes some familiar faces that have been seen in other Redhouse productions and some making their Redhouse debut. As per usual, all of the actors display tremendous skill.

Familiar faces Laura Austin and John Bixler once again deliver great performances. Their comedic timing is top notch no matter what role or scene they are in. Austin's stage presence is intoxicating, especially thanks to her skillful and amusing expressions. You can't help but smile at her quirky charm. Bixler is a truly standout natural performer. He effortlessly transforms himself into four very interesting and different characters.

Basil Allen - with his incredibly full beard - looks like someone who would live in the small, snowy, and seemingly very lonesome place of Almost. He's likeable in every role and is a master at beautifully conveying tormented emotions.

Lilli Komurek wide- eyed expressions and moving line delivery charm the audience as she portrays women dealing with heartbreak or loneliness in a relatable way.

Newbies (at least to the Redhouse) Derek Powell and Alyssa Otoski-Keim bring great energy, charm, and comedy to the production. Powell, who is often seen in other theaters in the area, successfully captures three very different, but entertaining guys in search of love. His liveliness and comedic skill dazzle the audience. Alyssa Otoski-Keim's perfects the art of transformation, portraying a girl at her Bachelorette party awkwardly running into her ex-boyfriend (John Bixler as Jimmy), a frustrated girl at home on Friday night doing laundry who meets a very interesting guy that doesn't feel pain (Derek Powell as Steve), and a tomboy girl hanging with a friend (Derek Powell as Dave) after a sweet snowmobiling excursion. The last story was a definite favorite of mine.

Under Steve Hayes' talented and watchful eye, Almost, Maine at the Redhouse exudes sweetness and charm as the six engaging performers effortlessly tell each unique story.

Running time: Approximately two hours and ten minutes with one twenty-minute intermission.

Almost, Maine runs through February 3, 2019 at the Redhouse Arts Center, 400 South Saline Street, Syracuse, New York in Theatre 2. For tickets and information on this production and upcoming productions, click here.

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From This Author Natasha Ashley

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