Playwright John Cariani named his comedy “Almost, Maine” because he’s from Maine. But the truth is, this winter-drenched romantic comedy could have been set right here in La Crosse.
“People will identify with this,” said La Crosse Community Theatre Artistic Director Greg Parmeter. “They won’t be tortured with scenes happening in a tropical atmosphere. It should help people get through those long, cold nights.”
And there is plenty happening in “Almost, Maine,” where nine couples fall in and out of love one winter evening under the northern lights beginning Jan. 28 at the La Crosse Community Theatre. The cast for “Almost, Maine” — Stacy Bruemmer, Tim Harris, Kelley Manson and Dan Radtke — portray 19 characters who discover love and heartbreak in unexpected and often hilarious ways.
Parmeter said we’ll likely recognize ourselves and people we know in these vignettes.
Though he could have used as many as 19 actors, Parmeter settled on four because Cariani wrote it with four actors in mind. And those four actors get a chance to stretch throughout the evening, altering their personas with costume changes, hair styles and speech patterns.
“They are busy,” Parmeter said with a laugh.
“My favorite part about the script is that each one of these vignettes is recognizable. Every one of us has had a conversation like this in one way or another. Often, those conversations turn out to be funny,” Parmeter said. “One of the components of love is humor. It’s naturally funny as it is.”
Though they are not all happily-ever-after stories, Parmeter said, there is a “refreshing sweetness and honesty. They don’t all end well.”
But they do ring true.
“In many ways, this could be Wisconsin. That is one of the reasons we chose it. There’s a lot of similarities,” Parmeter said. “They’re dealing with these incredibly long winters where you have to bundle up to get from your house to the car. They find their joy in being part of that world. So people will identify with this.”