SVPA Presents: “Almost, Maine”


When the last bell rings to signal the end of the school day, most students rush out of their classes, eager to leave school behind and start their extracurricular afternoons. However nearly every day from 2:45 to 6PM the students involved with SVPA (or the School of Visual and Performing Arts) can be found in the freshman building auditorium, colloquially known as “ The Little Theater,” rehearsing, building, or generally preparing for their upcoming show.  

Every year, the large community of SVPA’s student artists, performers, builders, and technicians work together to bring three mainstage shows to the MHS community. This past fall was the annual Showcase, a cabaret style performance of songs from all genres, starring performers of all grade levels. This year’s showcase was directed by MHS and SVPA alum, Jason Smith, and was based on the Netflix documentary “The Last Blockbuster,” released in 2020. 

This February, SVPA is bringing to the stage “Almost, Maine,” a series of vignettes about finding love in unlikely places. The show was written by John Cariani, a well known broadway and TV actor. The show will be directed by Brenda Pepper, who co-heads the program along with MHS teacher Ms. Wills. The technical department is headed by Mr. Rudoren, the MHS architecture teacher.

From an acting standpoint, the show presents a bit of a challenge. The SVPA performance features students from multiple grade levels playing couples of all kinds, and for some actors, the relationships experienced by their characters are foreign to their own lives. For senior Aidan Cummins and junior Rex Roche, who are friends on and off the stage, playing best friends Randy and Chad isn’t an issue. Other cast members have had to find less obvious parallels between their lives and their characters’ lives. 

However as sophomore Olivia Cusumano says, “Almost everyone has made some kind of impulsive decision in their lives, or had a person in their lives that they feel strongly about.” Cusumano uses those experiences and emotions while performing, and it seems those sentiments are shared by the rest of the cast, as each of their scenes come across as genuine and heartfelt. 

On the other side of things, the tech crew has also faced a number of technical challenges. Senior tech member Jase Pirkle says that a big obstacle for this show has been finding the right materials to make sets, props, and backgrounds. Since the show follows nine different couples, a new set is needed for every scene. The student set designers had to use a lot of imagination to come up with a solution that allowed for unique but efficient sets that make the most of the materials and space available. 

Aidan Cataldi, a senior and one of the co-heads of lights, remarked on the unique opportunity the winter drama offers the juniors in tech. Whereas the fall showcase and spring musical are usually led by the senior members of tech, the drama is the juniors’ chance to show what they’ve learned before taking the reins their senior year. 

The show performs February 9, 10, and 11 at 7PM. Tickets will be available both online and at the door. The link to purchase will be available on all SVPA platforms, please email [email protected] with any questions, or to join the google classroom. 

Anyone is welcome to join SVPA, regardless of experience, and the community is always eager to share their passion for theater with newcomers.