Hilltop Players Capture Audiences With ‘Almost, Maine’

February 15, 2019

Bryan College’s Hilltop Players recently completed a two-week run of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, a series of scenes featuring characters in different stages of love and heartache. In addition to the familiar faces of seniors Isaac Hendrix and Teagan Hughes, the show featured an impressive array of freshman talent. Carlos Portillo, Dillon Melvin, Sophia McCosh, and Katrina Ingalls all made their Hilltop debut. The show also saw performances from Larissa Carroll (‘21), Seaton Dasher (‘21), and Alyssa Swann (‘20). Behind the curtain, Kristen Lawrence served as Props Mistress, Savannah Bitterling as Stage Manager, and Teagan Hughes as Costumer. Bernie Belisle acted as technical director. Austin Marsh was the Assistant Director.

Dillon Melvin and Teagan Hughes in the scene “This Hurts.”

The show was a fresh approach to theater not previously seen on the Hill. When asked why Almost, Maine was chosen over a more traditional show, Director Alexis Landry stated:

I was very drawn to the raw honesty portrayed in the relationships between characters in Almost, Maine. John Cariani does an incredible job of writing dialogue that sounds and flows exactly like we talk in real life with one another. It doesn’t feel like a script; most of the time it feels like you’re listening to a conversation you’ve had with someone in your own experiences. It’s a type of story that the Hilltop Players have never told before, and I think that contemporary dramatic literature is just as important to expose our students/audiences to as the classics with which we’re so familiar…

I believe in the importance of doing theatre that makes you think. I also believe it is necessary to perform theatre which reflect the brokenness of humanity… Almost every character in Almost, Maine is hurt, scarred or troubled by something: abandonment, heartache, loneliness, anger, defeat, or insecurity. Who can honestly say they have never been plagued by one of these struggles? No one. And that’s why I love this play, because everyone can relate to these broken people and what they’re going through…
I hope that the audience walked away having been connected to the relationships displayed onstage, and perhaps they were reminded of similar situations that have happened in their own lives. I hope that they enjoyed seeing an honest portrayal of life as it is, and that they were able to see that, as followers of Christ, we have been saved from a life of loneliness, despair, and regret through His grace, forgiveness and love.

Carlos Portillo and Katrina Ingalls in the scene “Where It Went.”

The show experimented with light, music, and time throughout the production, creating a seamless flow between scenes. Audience members were immersed in the show the moment they entered Brock Hall — the first scene was already staged and underway as the crowd took their seats. On the uniqueness of the show, Ms. Landry said:

It is a style of theatre that’s never been done here before. The way we set the atmosphere in the room before the audiences walked in, the playlists of acoustic love songs we compiled, and the silence between scenes were all theatrical tactics that our regular audiences were extremely unfamiliar with. I was excited to see how people reacted to the change, and how willing they were to embrace the unfamiliar and get caught up in the stories unfolding before them in a new, fresh way.

This is the Hilltop Player’s second production under Ms. Landry (‘13), who returned to Bryan as an Instructor of Theatre this past fall.

Their next production, My Fair Lady, will run April 11th-13th.

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