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Rising Phoenix Theater's connected tales of love sure to resonate with viewers

One cold, clear, winter night, as the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, the residents of Almost, Maine, find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and hilarious ways.

COURTESY PHOTO - Arun Kumar and Kendra Munroe rehearse a poignant scene from Rising Phoenix Theater's production of 'Almost, Maine,' opening March 5. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. But the bruises heal, and the hearts mend — almost — in this delightful midwinter night's dream.

Welcome to Almost, Maine, a place that's so far north, it's almost in Canada. It's not quite a town, because its residents never got around to getting organized, so it almost doesn't exist.

But it will come alive March 5, when Rising Phoenix Theater presents "Almost, Maine" at the Oak Grove Methodist Church. The play, directed by Susan Scovil, runs Thursday-Saturday, March 5-7 and 12-14.

'Quirky' play

The play is a series of nine vignettes about love, with a little bit of magical realism thrown in, Scovil said.

COURTESY PHOTO - Corey McEuin and Nathan Wills characters share a drink and have a chat in 'Almost, Maine,' a bittersweet comedy about love and life in a small town.   When she first read "Almost, Maine," she thought it was too sentimental, but the more she thought about it, she decided it was a quirky little play.

"It grew on me, and then I saw it at Clackamas High School and I thought it was clever," Scovil said.

But one thing worried her — how to realistically create the aurora borealis that is so crucial to the set.

Then Brian Ringsted, her set designer, suggested using a projection, not just for the sky effects, but for the entire "set."

Scovil bought a projector, they tried it out and it worked.

She also noted that community members kindly loaned out their artificial Christmas trees, so that the group could create a "forest."

"I want to thank the community for taking a risk on us and loaning us their trees. We are being very careful not to mix them up," Scovil said.

She added that she is especially grateful to the members of the church, who have been supportive of community theater.

Shared experience

Scovil held auditions in December and wasn't even sure she was ready to direct another play so soon after "Sylvia" ended. And she wasn't sure if people would come to auditions, so close to Christmas.

"But I saw people come in and they were excited; people want to share this experience. That's why we do community theater," she said.

Scovil has enjoyed collaborating with the cast, and the cast has responded well to her direction.

The biggest challenge for the actors has been learning their lines in the play.

"This author is different. His dialogue reflects how people talk, so the lines overlap a lot."

Bittersweet moments

Audiences will like the fact that the actors play more than one role in the course of the play, Scovil said.

They also will like that the set is different and the script is unpredictable.

"There are unexpected twists and turns; it's sort of magical," she said. "There is also something bittersweet in every scene, as the characters struggle to find love."

Scovil added: "Every couple has to overcome things to make connections. Love is hard."

Love is magical

What: Rising Phoenix Theater presents "Almost, Maine,"

by John Cariani

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 5-7, 12-14

Where: Oak Grove United Methodist Church, 14700 S.E. Rupert Drive

Tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens; available at the door

Cast: The play is directed by Susan Scovil. The cast includes: Catherine Cromer, Steve Cromer, Daphne Dossett, Rhona Klein, Arun Kumar, Corie McEuin, Kendra Munroe, Bryan Ringsted, Gerie Voss and Nathan Will.

More: Follow Rising Phoenix Theater on Facebook or visit risingphoenixtheater.com.


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