The New Depot Players’ latest show, “Almost, Maine” written by John Cariani, is a dramedy of vignettes chronicling love and relationships in their many stages from infancy to death. Taking place on a chilly evening in a fictional Maine town under the northern lights, many of the scenes have a mystical element anchored by real and relatable moments. The tales surprise, delight and aggravate, much like the emotion they are based upon. “The stories are sweet, warm, sad and funny,” said co-director Kim Fratesi. “It’s all there.”
Each actor in the eight-member cast plays several roles in different scenes. Both familiar and new faces grace this production. Three veterans, Paul Casola, Tom Johnson and Scott Mills, balance their abundant comedic skill with heart and raw emotion.
Ever fearless Casola puts it on the awkward line in both his scenes — a jilted boyfriend randomly reuniting with his ex at her bachelorette party; and a sidelined “friend” declaring himself to his clueless intended in the tremendously pleasing, “Seeing the Thing.” The sensational NDP newcomer Candace Parr, matches and raises Casola’s physical antics in that scene while bringing quirky spirit and resolve in both “Her Heart” with Mills and “This Hurts.”
Fellow newcomer Brien Faucett joins Parr in a laundry room chance encounter in “This Hurts” and continues to flourish in the amusing buddy reveal, “They Fell,” with Tom Johnson and absolutely delivers in the powerfully poignant “Story of Hope.” Jennifer Quinn makes a moving NDP debut as Hope, a woman realizing the price of pursuing her “place in the world.”
Shelley Cherkis, another NDP fresh face, skillfully plays the bachelorette wishing the earth, or bar room floor, would swallow her during a run-in with her ex in “Sad and Glad,” but really excels in “Where It Went” with Johnson. Their portrayal of long-married Phil and Marci literally skating on thin ice half-heartedly attempting to reconnect is heartrending.
Johnson opens and closes the show alongside his real-life wife Amy Johnson, also the charming waitress in “Sad and Glad.” Team Johnson play Pete and Ginette, a couple basking in the joy and uncertainty of dropping the L-bomb. “We can all relate to some of those scenes from some point in our life,” said co-director Amy LeCates, along with Fratesi a popular presence on-stage in many past productions, “I am so proud of our cast...everyone has been so dedicated and eager to try new things.”
Though one may suspect where a story is headed in “Almost, Maine,” one winds up taking a surprise turn on the scenic route. In the hands of this cast and their directors, it makes for a rewarding trip.
“Almost, Maine” runs Oct. 11–13 and 18–20 at 8 p.m.; and Oct. 14 and 21 at 3 p.m. at 910 Center Street in Conyers. General admission tickets are $20 and $16 for seniors and students and may be purchased at thenewdepotplayers.com or call (678) 374-3224. Preview night is on Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. — tickets for this night only are $10.