FALLING SNOW, FALLING IN LOVE — Pete (Michael McGinness), left, and Ginnette (Stephanie Lemon) come together after being separated to share how they really feel about the other in "Almost, Maine." The play opens at Union Mine High School on Oct. 27. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

FALLING SNOW, FALLING IN LOVE — Pete (Michael McGinness), left, and Ginnette (Stephanie Lemon) come together after being separated to share how they really feel about the other in "Almost, Maine." The play opens at Union Mine High School on Oct. 27. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum


Love finds a way at Union Mine

By From page B1 | October 21, 2011

What: “Almost, Maine”

Who: Union Mine High School Drama Department

Where: Union Mine High School, Theater at the Mine, 6530 Koki Lane, El Dorado

When: Thursday, Oct. 27, to Saturday, Oct. 29, and Thursday, Nov. 3 to Saturday, Nov. 5. Doors open at 7 p.m. and show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Thursday night shows are adults, $10; Union Mine students with student body cards, $7; and other high school students $8. For the Friday and Saturday night shows, high school students $5 and adults $10. Tickets available at the door the night of the play

Information: 530-621-4003, ext. 4605

EL DORADO — A Broadway play that was rejected in the big cities is now the No. 1 play among high school drama departments in the United States, including the Union Mine High School drama department.

Close to two dozen Union Mine drama students, on and off stage, will bring the play to life next week at Theater at the Mine, 6530 Koki Lane in El Dorado.

The play will run Thursday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Oct. 29, and on Thursday, Nov. 3, through Saturday, Nov. 5. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the curtain is at 7:30 p.m. for all performances.

“Almost Maine” was written by Jon Cariani, a playwright who is best known for his role as Julian Beck on the TV show “Law and Order.”

The play is set in the mythical city of Almost, Maine, where romantic comedies and romantic dramas take center stage.

The scenes are written to leave people feeling better about people and the world, or at least the state of Maine in general.

According to Pete Miller, Union Mine’s drama teacher and director of the play, Broadway’s rejection is now the talk among the majority of his drama students, as well as most United States high school drama students.

“It’s a fairly new play,” said Miller, who has been running the school’s drama department since the school opened its doors toward the end of the 1990s.

“It has an interesting history because it failed on Broadway; it was a horrible failure. I think because of the small backwoods town, it just didn’t work in the big city,” Miller said.

Big hit, lots of characters

“Then it got out to the community theaters and became a big hit. Next it got to the high schools and it worked for high schools because there’s a lot of characters, good parts for a lot of characters.”

The Union Mine drama students taking part in the play are: Michael McGinness, Stephanie Lemon, Cyle Sullivan, Beth Howard, William Gardner, Cierra Kerby, Luca Detora, Kayal Warner, Scott Johnston, Miki Lenhart, Tucker Bowers, Jordan Hyatt-Miller, Grady Lynch, Cole Fraser, Jessica Derochea, Olivia Manning, Dillon Stalter, Afton Getz, Daniel LaGrou, Crystal Cooker, Matt Dwyer, Alex Savage and Will Van Duesen.

Kerby, a senior, plays Sandrine.

“She’s very awkward because she’s at her bachelorette party, and her ex-boyfriend is there,” laughed Kerby, as she described Sandrine’s character.

Kerby warms up

Kerby, who has been in the school’s drama program all four years, is enjoying this year’s drama class. Over the years, she’s learned the age-old saying that practice makes perfect — especially the night of a play.

“It really calms me down. It is not as nerve-racking like it was my freshman year,” Kerby said.

Kerby likes the camaraderie of the students in the drama department.

“You’re so welcomed here,” said Kerby of students in the drama department. “We’ve grown as a family.”

Taking drama classes over recent years seems to have paved a path toward looking into a career in media for Kerby. After she graduates from Union Mine next spring, she’s going to enroll at Folsom Lake College. Then she plans to transfer to California State University, San Diego to major in communications.

“I like stuff like that,” said Kerby, referring to possibly one day working as a journalist in television or radio.

Other avenues are also a possibility.

“I was actually thinking event planner because I’m really good with organizing things,” she said.

The nine scenes are “evenly balanced” among actors and actresses, according to Miller.

“Some of the scenes are slightly longer, but they are all two, three-person scenes,” said Miller, “so you focus on the small relationships.”

Let it snow

All of the actors and actresses in the play will also set up and breakdown the stage between acts. The students will also use a snow cradle, plus handle the costumes.

A snow cradle is, “basically, old technology,” said Miller referring to the old-school method of making it snow on stage. A snow cradle is box with holes and it is rocked to make the snow fall.

“Students had to learn how to do it. It’s been fun to go back to basic theater technology,” Miller said.

If some of the students are considering an acting career after high school, the ability to multi-task looks good on a résumé.

“There’s more jobs for those people off-stage than on-stage. Big theaters and big film studios hire many more people to design stages. We always emphasize that. I also want the actors to know that they have to do the work to get on stage. We don’t want parents or professionals to come in and do the work for them. Everything you see here is student-produced,” Miller said.

“The appreciation for the hard work that the tech people do is there because they are doing it. So it’s not all the glory of being on stage, but it’s the hard work of preparing for it.”

‘It’s pretty cool’

Kerby, whose very first play as a freshman at Union Mine was “Romeo and Juliet,” added, “We have definitely prepared a lot for it. It’s pretty cool.”

Auditions for the play started in August when Union Mine started the current school year. Rehearsals are conducted during the period the students meet and the students meet once a week through next week’s opening. The students have flexibility, as most are involved in other extra-curricular activities such as athletics.

“It’s easy to work around the schedules of the people because we have a smaller cast,” said Kerby.

Price of admission

Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for Union Mine students with an associated student body card and $8 for high school students. The Thursday shows are a bargain for all high school students with admission at $5. Adults still pay $10 for the Thursday shows.

“The $5 tickets are a big savings for the students who attend the Thursday evening shows,” Miller said.

People who have never seen a play before are encouraged to attend “Almost, Maine.” The play should last about two hours, including intermission.

“We never sell out our non-musicals,” Miller said. “There’s always seats available. People can just get their tickets at the door.”

Kerby added, “Everyone should see the show because it’s really cute.”

Kerby also said sponsorships are available for the play.

For more information call 530-621-4003, ext. 4605.

E-mail Mike Bush at [email protected] or call 530-344-5071.

Mike Bush

Mike Bush has been a Staff Writer at the Mountain Democrat since August 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MBushMtDemo
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