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November 3, 2013

Beneath the northern lights

THS Drama Club does a little something different with 'Almost, Maine'

Tonawanda News — The Tonawanda High School Drama Club has often, in the past, turned to the story possibilities of intrigue and mystery for its fall shows. But this year, they’re focusing on something a little different — and all the drama of the human heart.

On Nov. 8 and 9, the Drama Club will present “Almost, Maine,” a series of nine interwoven vignettes set in an imaginary town in Maine, each focusing on “falling in love, falling out of love ... all the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Daniel Lynch, THS teacher and director of the play.

“It’s a small cast, but a very challenging show,” he said. “We usually do the murder-mystery shows for our fall production, but this year we decided to go out of the norm and do a very different show.”

During a recent afternoon on stage at the Tonawanda Alumni Auditorium, students rehearsed one of the vignettes against a simple backdrop of pine trees and a wooden fence. Except for the very beginning, middle and end, all of the segments all take place at the same time within the context of the show, and each ends with the northern lights in the sky above, Lynch said.

There are 12 student cast members for this show (which is usually produced with four people) and only two of them are on stage at any given time, he said. “They had to break their comfort zones a lot for this show. (There is) stage kissing, a lot of lines, a lot of dialogue, but they’re done an absolutely wonderful job.”

The show, written by John Cariani, is one of the most produced plays among U.S. high schools, according to Dramatics, the magazine of the Educational Theatre Association. The students are portraying older characters, all at different stages in their lives and relationships, allowing them to stretch their acting chops quite a bit, Lynch said.

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