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Community theater presents ‘Almost, Maine’

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Annual performance to hit WMPAC stage Nov. 17 and 18

By Tucker Harris EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – As the darkness of winter sets in, a night of love lost, love found and love re-examined will light up the Warren Miller Performing Arts stage in the Big Sky Community Theater’s performance of “Almost, Maine.”

Written by John Cariani, the play tells the story of one eventful wintery night in the mythical small town of Almost, Maine through a series of eight comical and tragic vignettes.

The local show, slated for Nov. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m., is directed by Big Sky’s Ashley Dodd, Stephanie Kissel and Vanessa Wilson. After a virtual season last year, the director trio is excited to bring the live performance to the WMPAC stage.

“We have more folks than we’ve ever had in a [Big Sky Community Theater show] and a lot of people who have never acted on stage before,” Dodd said. “I’m really excited that people are willing to get out there and try it.”

Big Sky local Vicky Nordahl is one of those actors. Despite having never performed on stage, Nordahl auditioned in search of a fun experience and a way to meet new people. “I just want to have fun; that is my main objective with this,” she said. Nordahl is one of 11 actors that will hit the stage for the premiere on Nov. 17.

On the other side of the spectrum, Stephanie Kissel has been with the community theater since its inception in 2012. Kissel will be seen acting in one scene, and she’s also serving as the production’s musical director. Kissel and musician Sarah Mitchell will play music in between each scene to string the multi-part show together.

Kissel described the music as a variety of pop songs from across an array of genres. “Some of it is intentionally meant to be a little corny and funny and some of it is meant to be poignant,” she said. Kissel and Mitchell have chosen songs based on how the actors have read their different characters and storylines.

The “community” piece of the community theater extends well beyond local on-stage talent. The production’s poster and programs were designed by a Big Sky School District student, Stacy Fletcher, to create graphic designed posters, and Big Sky’s Community Choir will also make an appearance in the show. The community theater itself is a BSSD adult education program.

“Everybody has a little piece and everybody is contributing in their own way,” Kissel said. “It feels like a true community production. Having the full community support is awesome.” Playwriter Cariani says while “Almost, Maine” is both set in a town going through a lot of pain through heartbreak, it’s also still meant to be a comedy. “Sadness and pain are the funniest things in the world,” he writes.

In many ways, “Almost, Maine” is a timely and fitting performance for Big Sky as the community emerges from the pandemic, Kissel said.

“To come out of COVID… it is very sad, but in a way that you can just laugh,” she said. [“Almost, Maine”] is maybe therapeutic and a powerful way to tell that story.”

Tickets are on sale for $10 online and will be available both in-person and online for both shows.

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