Love, loss and some laughter in between: Two casts of students perform in fall play “Almost, Maine”


Esha Gohil

Sarina Sharma (11), playing Ginette, smiles as she rests her head on Nicky Kriplani’s (11) shoulder in the prologue of the fall play. The play, “Almost, Maine,” was performed between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26 by two casts of students in the Patil Theater.

by Sally Zhu and Lauren Liu

After weeks of preparation and a dress rehearsal on Oct. 23, two casts of students told tales of love and loss in their performances of the fall play, “Almost, Maine,” between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26 in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center.

The evening cast performed at 7:00 pm on the three show days, with free tickets for faculty while student and general admission were priced at eight and 15 dollars, respectively. The swing cast, consisting entirely of freshmen and sophomores, performed at 2:00 pm on Oct. 26 in a free-to-attend showing.

Written by John Cariani, “Almost, Maine” takes place in the small fictional town of “Almost” in Maine and features short stories of complicated romances between nine couples. 

In the prologue, interlogue, and epilogue, the characters Pete and Ginette sit together on a bench, seeking how they can be closer to each other. Pete and Ginette are played by Aniket “Nicky” Kriplani (11) and Sarina Sharma (11) in the evening cast and Allen Boyce (10) and Paulina Gicqueau (9) in the swing cast. 

The first scene, “Her Heart,” the character Glory pays her respect to her dead husband by looking at the Northern Lights, in the backyard of a repairman, East. The two quickly fall for each other, as East repairs Glory’s broken heart. Glory and East are played by Maya Franz (11) and Benjamin Gicqueau (11) in the evening cast and Lucy Feng (9) and Josh Field (10) in the swing cast. 

The play moves on to “Sad and Glad,” where a separated couple, Sandrine and Jimmy, respectively played by Calais Poirson (11) and Evan Bourke (11) in the evening cast and Arely Sun (10) and Ishaan Parate (10) in the swing cast, reunite in a bar months later, during Sandrine’s bachelorette party. 

The third scene, “This Hurts,” follows the interaction of Steve, who cannot feel pain, and Marvalyn at a laundromat, as apologies for an accident turn into romantic feelings. Juniors Alissa Gao and Benjamin Soraire played Marvalyn and Steve in the evening cast, while Teresa Cai (10) and Jacob Fernandez (9) played the characters in the swing cast. 

Next, in “Getting It Back,” a couple, Gayle and Lendall, played by Sarah Raymond (11) and Austin Killam (11) in the evening cast and Annmaria Antony (9) and Zubin Khera (9) in the swing cast, argue over the love they have received from each other, comically shown in the form of red bags, and eventually resolve the tension with Gayle proposing to Lendall. 

“They Fell” follows the love story of two best friends, Deena and Shelly, who, while sharing their failed experiences of dates in the past, “fall” in love together⁠—literally, as the scene ends with them repeatedly falling over in the snow. Aditi Bharti (11) and Vaishnavi Murari (11) play Deena and Shelly in the evening cast, and Samvita Gautham (9) and Imogene Leneham (10) play the two characters for the swing cast. 

In “Where It Went,” Marci and Phil celebrate their wedding anniversary by going skating, resulting in complaints from both parties: Marci complains that Phil doesn’t pay enough attention to her, and Phil complains that Marci always hides her true feelings behind lies. Marci is played by Arianna Weaver (10) and Aastha Mangla (9), and Phil is played by Callie Mayer (10) and Josh Field (10). 

The penultimate scene is “Story of Hope,” where a young woman named Hope knocks on the door of her ex-boyfriend Danny, whom she hasn’t seen in many years, only to encounter a man she doesn’t recognize. When he calls her by her name as she begins to depart later in the scene, Hope realizes that the stranger is, in fact, Danny and looks different because he “lost hope,” eventually leaving heartbroken after she realizes Danny has moved on to another relationship. Hope was played by Kathy Fang (12) in the evening cast and Ysabel Chen (10) in the swing cast, while Harper Brada (9) played Danny in both casts. 

The final scene, “Seeing the thing,” which the swing cast did not perform, recounts the story of the best friends Rhonda and Dave who try to convey their feelings for each other through a “home-made” painting. Katelyn Chen (12) and Joel Morel (12) played Rhonda and Dave. 

Freshman Samvita Gautham, who acted in the swing cast, noted the bonds that developed between the cast members as they prepared for weeks ahead of the final performances. 

“It was a really great bonding experience,” Samvita said. “It felt like I had another family at school.” 

Many freshmen attended the swing show to support their fellow ninth graders and enjoyed the authenticity of the social interactions between the characters onstage. 

“I like how natural the acting is,” Clare Jin (9), who watched the show twice, said.“The actors and actresses seem like they connected a lot and I feel like they have chemistry on stage.” 

Upper school history teacher Byron Stevens appreciated the precision and intensity infused into the various character portrayals and especially enjoyed the opportunity to watch his former students in the play.

“I liked the timing and the energy of the actors,” Stevens said. “A number of my favorite [scenes] were played by [my] former students. I guess I most enjoyed the scene played by Maya and Benjamin, where we learn about ‘Almost’ and her broken heart, so I thought that kind of set the theme for the rest of the play.”