There's something to be said of community theater. It doesn't have the 'Bright Lights; Big City' feel of a Broadway musical, but it doesn't need that. There's an intimacy to community theater, especially here in Casper at the Stage III theater.

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Stage III recently put on John Cariani's 'Almost Maine,' an anthology of sorts comprised of nine short plays; all of which occur in the town of 'Almost.'

Life and love intersects in this almost-town, and the results are both humorous and surprisingly poignant.

There's the story of Pete and Ginette, a couple who have different views of what it means to be close. There's also Glory, who finds herself in the front yard of East, trying to look for the Northern Lights as she clutches the remains of her broken heart in a brown paper bag. There's Jimmy and Sandrine, Steve and Marvalyn, Lendall and Gayle, and so many more; all of whom are navigating the paths of their own hearts, hoping they don't get lost.

The play is being directed by Nicholas Johnson, a Stage III alum who was approached by the Stage III committee, made up of board members and patrons.

"The Board President, Mary McPherson, called me one day saying that they knew I was interested in directing, so they asked if I wanted to do this one and I said yes," Johnson stated. "It's originally written for four people but you can cast up to nineteen. I think it's important to get as many people involved in community theater at Stage III and in the arts community as possible, and if we had the opportunity to cast nineteen people, I would have."

As it is, this version of Almost Maine had eleven cast members. Sharice Roberson is one of them.

Roberson, a graduate of the Casper College Musical Theater and Dance program who said she's been performing since she was a child, played two roles; Hope and Glory. Both of those names perfectly fit the characters to whom they are attached, and Roberson did an excellent job of bringing those characters to life.

"The script has a very nontraditional sense to it," Roberson stated. "It doesn't just follow one storyline; it's like a whole collection of people and their experiences. And I think that is what I appreciate the most about the script and it's what kind of drew me in. It explored the human experience with multiple stories."

Both of Roberson's characters had somewhat tragic backstories and neither ended with a typical happily-ever-after, but they did invoke a certain sense of closure.

"I really enjoyed playing Hope," she said. "That character just has such a depth to it. There's emotion in there that I don't often get to play."

There's also a lot of emotion in the scene called 'They Fell,' which features two characters - Randy and Chad - who are extolling the trials and tribulations of dating over a few cold ones. It's a scene you've scene a thousand times, played out in every bar across America. But there's a twist to this story that will guarantee an audience reaction of "Ohhhh."

"The thing about this show that really intrigued me was how it touches each one of the emotions," said Matthew Snyder, who played Chad in 'They Fell.' "When you get to a certain point in life, you've experienced each one of those emotions, and I love being able to be a part of telling that story. The thing that stuck out to me most when I was playing 'Chad,' was...there's a line where he says 'But I kind of came out of being sad.' And what that said to me was that when this character arrived at his actual truth, as to who he is, he came out of that hate; he came out of trying to pretend. 'I came out of being sad, because I realized who I was.' And that really spoke to me."

It speaks to the audience as well. Everybody can find something to enjoy about Almost Maine. It's funny. It's poignant. It makes the audience, if they're really paying attention, question themselves. "Am I loving my partner in the way that they need?" Or, "Did this relationship end because I didn't work hard enough at it?" Or, "Do I want this person to realize their worth and know that they are loved, more than anything? Even if I'm not the one loving them?"

There's a lot of questions that come from Almost Maine, if we're willing to ask them. And that's what makes theater so great. It makes us think. It makes us question ourselves. It challenges us to become better versions of ourselves, so as not to end up sitting alone in a bar, watching our former lover run into the arms of somebody else.

"I hope the audiences can leave this show with the understanding that there are many form of love, and I think that each person can relate to at least one scene in their own love life," said Marcy McPherson, who played the roles of Ginette and Gayle. "It's a show everyone can relate to. It shows the trials and triumphs of love in all stages."

Love is a funny thing. It presents itself in a variety of ways. Sometimes, love is quiet. It grows and grows but still goes unnoticed because, maybe, a person just doesn't know how to say what's in their heart. Love is surprising. It comes about, sometimes, in less than ideal situations; like when you're just drinking a few Natural Lights or trying to figure out a painting.

Sometimes, oftentimes, love is hard. It stings and it cuts and it's guilt and regret and longing and, try as we might to rekindle a flame, many times we're left out in the dark, standing by ourselves as the porchlight goes out.

This show tackles all of these various forms of love, and it does so in a way that keeps audiences guessing, blushing, and laughing the whole way.

Almost Maine only has two shows left. There's a Saturday evening show taking place February 12, 2022 at 7:30pm and a Sunday afternoon matinee at 2:00pm. Tickets are $13.50 but it's absolutely money well spent.

Almost Maine is almost over so, like one of the themes in the show, don't let yourself miss out on something that could be really, really good. Because when that porchlight goes off, you'll regret it for the rest of your life.

Photos from the show can be seen below:

Stage III Production of Almost Maine

Stage III recently put on John Cariani's 'Almost Maine,' an anthology of sorts comprised of nine short plays; all of which occur in the town of 'Almost.'

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