A cold, moonless December sets the tone for romance, heartache and humor in Keuka College’s spring theatrical production of Almost, Maine.
A romantic comedy written by American actor John Cariani and directed by Professor of Theatre Mark Wenderlich, the play opens Thursday, April 18. The show begins at 8 p.m. in the Red Barn Theatre. Additional performances are Friday, April 19 through Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
The play is composed of nine short plays that explore love and loss in the remote, mythical place called Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky, the residents of Almost find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways.
The New York Times wrote that Almost, Maine is “a comedy comprising almost a dozen two-character vignettes exploring the sudden thunderclap of love and the scorched earth that sometimes follows.”
Almost, Maine premiered at the Portland (Maine) Stage Company, where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. Almost, Maine is featured in Smith and Kraus’ New Playwrights: Best Plays of 2006. The play was selected by The Wall Street Journal and the American National Theatre as one of the most outstanding regional theatre productions of the 2004-05 season.
Members of the cast include Logan Ackerley, a junior political science/history major from Liberty (Peter, Jimmy, Randy, Lendall, and Dave); Caleigh Alterio, a junior occupational science major from Akron (Ginette, Sandrine, Hope); Ryan Gillotti, a sophomore American Sign Language-English major from Cayuga (East, Chad, Man); Danica Zielinski, a junior American Sign Language major from Congers (Glory); Sierra Lynch, a junior psychology major from Watervliet (Marvalyn, Waitress); Joe Micnerski, a freshman English major from Grayslake, Ill. (Steve, Phil); and Sini Ngobese, a sophomore management major from Durban, South Africa (Rhonda, Gayle, Marci).
Members of the crew include Zielinski (stage manager, costume designer, and set designer); Dan Roach (sound designer); Stephen Funk, a senior psychology major from Homer (sound board operator); P. Gibson Ralph (light designer); and Erica Ruscio, a senior English major from Middlesex (light board operator).
Ralph is chair of the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and an associate professor of theatre at SUNY Brockport, while Roach has worked with the Eastman Opera, Geva Theatre and Downstairs Cabaret Theatre, among others.
Tickets for the performances are $5 for Keuka students, faculty, staff, and alumni and $10 for the general public. Tickets are available at the door. Seating is limited.
The requests were simple: a teddy bear, a baby doll, books, CDs, puzzles, pajamas, and slippers.
And for the 46 residents of Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home, these requests—and more—were fulfilled by 23 members and advisers of Keuka College’s Student Senate and Sigma Alpha Pi Honor Society.
“Heather Reed, activities director at the nursing home, contacted me and asked if we had any student groups interested in pairing up with Manor residents,” said Eva Moberg-Sarver, director of student activities. “Britani Pruner, a junior English major from Penneville and president of Student Senate, jumped at the chance to help. She then worked with members of Sigma Alpha Pi, who volunteered to co-sponsor the event.”
Erica Piedmonte, a senior management major from Auburn and secretary of Sigma Alpha Phi, assisted in the delivery of the gifts.
“My mother made two of the residents two hand-knitted scarves each, and I gave them everything they requested,” she said. “I think this was a great opportunity to give people some Christmas spirit.”
Madeline McColgin, a junior unified childhood/special education major from Penn Yan, liked adopting a resident “because I work in a group home, and I know how the residents feel when they do not get Christmas and do not get to see their families. Each resident said ‘thank you’ to me and you could tell they were filled with joy from having us there.”
After speaking with each of the residents, Reed sent over paper angels with gift ideas, according to Moberg-Sarver.
“The residents’ wish lists were heartwarming,” said Moberg-Sarver. “Some of them offered to share gifts with their spouse who was also at the Manor, or asked for donations to local places in need for the holidays. Each student was able to take an angel and choose gifts according to these wishes.”
Piedmonte bought things like holiday pins, blankets, books, and calendars, while McColgin gave her resident a blouse, earrings, and a CD. Stephen Funk, a junior psychology major from Homer, donated money to Milly’s Pantry in honor of his resident.
“She was so pleased with this kind gesture she had a thank you card written for Stephen before we left the building,” said Moberg-Sarver. “One student purchased a baby doll for a resident who never had one growing up.”
Carlie Ellison, a senior occupational science major from Belfast, “felt great after leaving Penn Yan Manor. I felt like I had made someone’s day, and it made me feel a little better about myself. It was great spending time with residents, hearing some of their stories, and seeing pictures of themselves and their families in their rooms.”
Another highlight of the gift delivery for Piedmonte was being able to “sit down with one of the residents I bought for and having a long talk with her.”
Ellison “would like to do it for holidays throughout the year.”
Other students who participated in the delivery included Meghan Marks, a senior childhood education major from Horseheads; Jeff Miller, a sophomore occupational science major from Bloomfield; Becky Allen, a sophomore childhood/special education major from Oxford; Taylor Smith, a junior occupational science major from Webster; and Bridgette Fletcher, a junior psychology major from Walton.