“We’re going back to the place where we fell in love with theatre,” said Ryan Massie, director of the first theater production of the NIU School of Theatre and Dance 2013-2014 Mainstage Series season.
The season opening play is “Almost, Maine,” by Tony Award-nominated actor John Cariani. It opens Thursday, Oct. 17, and will be the first to perform in its new but temporary theater venue at the Huntley Middle School auditorium at 1515 S. Fourth Street in DeKalb.
Massie said there is a lot of nostalgia associated with performing at the middle school.
“Many of the cast and crew fell in love with theatre when they were in this stage of their education,” he said. “It’s exciting to go back to that time.” He said the show’s student cast members are reminded of their own middle school days every time they walk out into the school’s halls and see the lockers covered with posters and event announcements.
About performing in the new theater, Massie said, “The space is nice. It has its challenges since we’re the first ones in the space. I have a great cast and crew that is adapting well.”
“Almost, Maine” is the story of a fictional town where residents find themselves falling in and out of love. The play is divided into nine short vignettes that explore the vastness of love, from its tribulations to its magic.
“It’s love … almost,” Massie chuckled, as he prepared for the evening’s rehearsal. “It’s deeper than just, ‘Love exists and it’s a good thing.’ This play is a story about the work that love requires.”
Although “Almost, Maine” has become the No. 1 most-produced show in North American high school’s this year (booting “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” to the second place spot), Massie doesn’t plan for this production to be anything like the usual productions. He said the setting is in an abandoned storage house to get back to the skeleton of what the script is about.
He has also collaborated with sound designer, Jake Harbour, to create transitional scenes with easily recognizable love songs that are distorted in some way.
This production of the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance is not affiliated with DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.
“Almost, Maine” performs from Thursday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 20, and from Thursday, Oct. 24, through Saturday, Oct. 26. Show times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sunday and the second Saturday. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. For more information on tickets, contact the School of Theatre and Dance box office at (815) 753-1600 or [email protected] from noon to 6 p.m. daily.