Northern Lights illuminate Stage Right Pittsburgh’s ‘Almost, Maine’ |
Theater & Arts

Northern Lights illuminate Stage Right Pittsburgh’s ‘Almost, Maine’

Candy Williams
Photos: Submitted
Steven Gallagher and Julie Beroes rehearse a scene for “Almost, Maine.”
Photos: Submitted
Rosalie Evans and Jamie McDonald rehearse a scene for “Almost, Maine,” a Stage Right Performing Arts and Education romantic comedy being performed at Aspinwall Riverfront Park.
Photos: Submitted
Stage Right Performing Arts & Education Artistic Director Bill Ivins will leave the position at year’s end.

The Northern Lights are in the sky and love is in the frosty air on a cold winter’s night in the mythical town of “Almost, Maine.”

Stage Right Performing Arts and Education will present six performances of the romantic comedy comprised of nine short plays set at the same time and place that explore love from different perspectives from March 21-30 at Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

The play, written by John Cariani, also known for his acting role on TV’s “Law and Order” series, is described as a story that “lands somewhere between Norman Rockwell and ‘Our Town.’”

Lora Oxenreiter of Pittsburgh, who directs “Almost, Maine” for Stage Right, said she was “completely in love with the show” once she read the script.

Discovering true feelings

“One of the reasons that I wanted to direct it is the element of magical reality throughout the show,” she said. “It captures moments of sweetness and bittersweetness as we watch scenes of strangers, friends and family discover their true feelings about one another. It touched my heart like no other play that I had read.”

A music score provided by the playwright meant to help the scenes move from one to the next will be performed live at each performance.

Oxenreiter said it’s rare today to find a contemporary drama that doesn’t accost its audiences with issues or harsh realities that can make them feel sad.

“Theater should invoke emotions but, ‘Almost, Maine’ is different than most plays in that it provokes emotions in a gentle, almost magical way. I’ve been directing theater for over 40 years and I’ve never experienced a play quite like this,” she said.

Jamie McDonald, a graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts, portrays three of the 19 characters in the play, which is designed to allow for actors playing multiple roles.

A new perspective

“All of the characters know each other for the most part because it’s a small town and each of them is unique in their own way,” McDonald said, “but they all share an experience that’s hard to explain when the Northern Lights shine down on the town, which gives them new perspective on their relationships, old and new.”

Lee Lytle of McCandless, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and The Royal Central School and Drama in London, portrays two characters that are dealing with the loss of love.

She said audiences will be moved and entertained by the show.

“Each vignette is a touching and/or hilarious and clever glimpse into the loss of love, falling into love, and sometimes both,” she said. “But even if the circumstances are extraordinary, what results feels very real.”

Jim Froehlich, producer, also performs in the play; Bill Ivins is artistic director. The cast also features Bruce E. Travers, Sydney Turnwald, Steven Gallagher, Rosalie Evans, Julie Elizabeth Beroes, Shayla Barrett, Christopher Ranallo, Noelle Jordan and Newt Pringle.

Artistic director to bid farewell

Stage Right Performing Arts & Education has announced that after many years of dedicated service, Artistic Director and friend Bill Ivins will be leaving Stage Right at the end of the 2019 season to relocate with his family to Florida.

James McDonald, media and publicity director for Stage Right, said that Bill has either directed, produced, designed, performed in, or in some way worked on, more than 35 shows with Stage Right and has dedicated thousands of hours of volunteer work to make its productions a reality.

“His leadership has been the guiding light for our company for almost 15 years, and he will be dearly missed not just by all of us at Stage Right, but by the Fox Chapel community and the Pittsburgh theater community at large,” McDonald said.

“His enthusiasm, creativity and love of bringing people together through theater has made Stage Right what it is today and what it will become in the future. Bill Ivins will never be replaced, and will remain our friend and partner. We hope to hold true to his example as we look to the future of our group.”

With Ivins’ departure, 2019 will be the last operating year for Stage Right Performing Arts & Education, according to McDonald.

“Beginning in 2020, the company will reform under a new name and mission statement in keeping with our promise to deliver quality theater to the Fox Chapel area with our new home, Aspinwall Riverfront Park,” he said. More information will be released at a later date.

Members of the community are invited to help celebrate the career and efforts of Ivins on March 22 at Aspinwall Riverfront Park, following the evening performance of “Almost, Maine.”

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: AandE | Theater Arts
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