Cast photo: Back row from left: Andrew Zahrt, Justin Sternburgh and Kurt McCool
Front row from left: Eirann Betka, Laura Anys and Katie McCool
The Howmet Playhouse is proud to announce that “Almost, Maine”, one of the most popular plays in recent memory in the lakeshore theater community, will return to the Playhouse stage Jan. 10, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. as part of its 96th Anniversary Celebration.
Produced by the Mighty Mitten Players, a new group on West Michigan theater scene, the show is a benefit for the historic Playhouse. The show is generously underwritten by Frank and Susan Bednarek and Emery and Joanne Hatch.
Hailed as “Love in the time of frostbite” by the New York Sun, John Cariani’s play about the mythical town of Almost, Maine, has become a favorite in the greater Muskegon area. First performed at the Playhouse in August of 2009, the Central Park Players produced the show with Andrew Zahrt as the director in 2010. Andrew Zahrt will direct this production, along with fellow actor/director Justin Sternburgh. Almost, Maine will star local actors Laura Anys, Eirann Betka, Katie McCool, Kurt McCool and directors Justin Sternburgh and Andrew Zahrt. Joining the cast and directors are stage manager Andrew Kitchka, technical director Mike Munson and costume designer Trudi Kerkstra.
The plot revolves around the remote town of Almost, Maine, where on a clear cold night in the deepest winter, the Northern Lights can be seen. All is not quite what it seems as Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected, unusual and often hilarious ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. And ache is all around as love is — literally — lost, found and realized. An enchanting midwinter’s nights dream, Almost, Maine inventively explores the mysteries of the human heart, touching audiences with laughter, heart break and hope.
“This is one of my absolute favorite plays,” said Katie Trzaska, managing director of the Howmet Playhouse. “When it was performed in 2009 at the Playhouse I saw it three times. The stories and characters are endearing, relatable, funny ... it is a very well written play and the perfect show for a cold winter night with the people you love. We are so pleased that the Mighty Mitten Players are bringing it back to the Playhouse.”
The Mighty Mitten Players is a group of West Michigan natives dedicated to bringing excellent, enjoyable theatre productions to the West Michigan area. Formed this fall by Andrew Zahrt and some other west Michigan theater enthusiasts, the goal of the group is to “give West Michigan more options: more options to perform, more options to enjoy wonderful pieces of theater, and more options to see performance venues patrons may not be used to,” said Zahrt.
Zahrt said choosing this play was almost a no-brainer. “Almost, Maine is such a beautiful show that it’s hard to stay away from it. There is something to be said for doing theater that pertains to things happening in the real world, but ‘Maine’ isn’t topical. It’s about people falling in and out of love. It is a nice escape for an audience. They can leave any of their problems at the door, and just come enjoy this beautiful piece of theater. It’s something that everyone can use right about now.”
Tickets for this benefit for the Playhouse are available at Whitehall City Hall during regular business hours or at the door the night of the show. Please call 231-894-4048 for more information or about purchasing tickets via mail. General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students; the show is appropriate for students ages 14 and up.
All proceeds will benefit the Playhouse. Show begins at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening for seating at 7 p.m. For more information on the Playhouse and upcoming events, please visit www.howmetplayhouse.org. For information on the Mighty Mitten Players, visit www.facebook.com/TheMightyMittenPlayers.