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Nine couples, 18 hearts on the mend, and countless gasps from the audience. The story of love is told in many ways, and West Springfield High School encapsulates them all in Spartan Theatre’s production of “Almost, Maine.”

Written by John Cariani in 2007, “Almost, Maine” tells the stories of nine different relationships as they fluctuate between the good and the bad, the heartwarming and the heartbreaking. The show is tinged with an aspect of magical realism that brings to life the small, fictional town of Almost, Maine. Although the nine vignettes are unrelated, each one conveys the theme of the changing circumstances that are associated with love in any situation. The stories are also connected by the Northern Lights that appear throughout, a phenomenon that further elicits the romantic nature of the play.

Even though each story happened individually, it was inspiring to watch the entire cast work together as a cohesive unit. Some actors made the audience laugh, some brought forth tears, and others prompted a chorus of happy sighs. While each actor chose a different tactic, the Spartan cast clearly presented a single message: the importance of adapting to the changing tides of love and life.

One of the standout vignettes, entitled “Her Heart,” portrayed the charming meet-cute that took place between Glory and East (Adella Bailey and Nick Frazier) as they watched the Northern Lights together. Bailey’s lovable quirkiness played beautifully with Frazier’s frenetic nervousness to tell the narrative in a captivating way. Through overlapping verbal exchanges and the awkward hugs they shared, Bailey and Frazier each excelled at drawing the audience into the sweetest of romances.

Pete and Ginette’s (Oliver Bourjaily and Mad Mitchell) story was woven throughout the play as a prologue, interlogue, and epilogue, and the pair had the audience enraptured from beginning to end. Bourjaily artfully used silence and a dejected posture to first convey his character’s aloofness and later regret. Meanwhile, Mitchell started with over-eagerness in her tone of voice before crossing her arms to close herself off to both Bourjaily and the audience. With the happily-ever-after ending that was introduced by the epilogue, both actors showcased hope through their facial expressions and hand gestures to take the place of any verbal communication.

Propelled by the Northern Lights motif, the lighting design immaculately directed the flow of each story. Designers TJ Green, Rakeb Yihunie, and Zachary Kearny overlapped a variety of textures in the lighting to indicate the presence of snow all around Maine. They also adjusted the colder color schemes to add a pink accent in the most heartfelt scenes, creating an atmosphere that emanated warmth despite the setting. In the final scene of the play, the Northern Lights finally appeared all around the auditorium in a gorgeous display of the technical mastery that the student designers had achieved. This skill was further emphasized by the aesthetic nature of the set, which melded with the lights to establish the impression of silhouetted evergreen trees. The set designers, led by Finley Cochran, also built a snow-covered log cabin to further add to the ambiance of the town.

Even with the incessant chill of “Almost, Maine,” the cast and crew of Spartan Theatre performed with all the warmth that comes from the joy of doing what they love.

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