Livermore: Encore Players presenting 'Almost, Maine'

Visit the town where magical moments occur in a heartbeat

Encore Players invites Tri-Valley theatergoers to visit "Almost, Maine," a remote, mythical, almost-town where its people explore love and loss one cold, clear, slightly surreal night during the Northern Lights.

Ray Spooner, veteran actor, teacher, director and chairman of the board of Encore Players, is making his debut as director with the troupe, which was originally aimed at ages 50 and older but has evolved to be multi-generational.

Spooner has expanded the cast for "Almost, Maine" to 16 members who range in age from high school to seasoned actors.

"This play is a very deeply thoughtful piece on life and relationships," Spooner said. "People at various stages of their own lives will see themselves reflected in one or more of these vignettes. Spread the word and enjoy this wonderful cast of players."

The actors come from Livermore and Pleasanton and others from farther afield including Sunol, Martinez, Oakland and Los Gatos.

"Almost, Maine" has eight scenes plus a prologue and epilogue, giving each actor a chance to shine. The variety of vignettes will take the audience through humor, heartbreak, falling in love, and everything in between.

Co-producer Marsha Howard, a Pleasanton resident, has worked on Encore productions before.

"Once the acting bug bites you, it's hard to shake," Howard said. "But as you age, you find fewer opportunities. I'm glad Encore provides opportunities for 'mature' actors."

Encore vice chairwoman Martie Muldoon, a retired Pleasanton music teacher, is co-producing.

"After directing Encore's most recent production, 'The Last Romance,' I'm excited to return to the stage with this unique play," Muldoon said. "I'm especially thrilled to be sharing the stage with two young ladies I taught and directed as youth. I worked with Rebecca Bernstein at Asbury Methodist Church, as youth choir and musical director."

"I ran into Rebecca at a blood drive and invited her to audition as we were both donating blood," she continued, adding:

"Maya Allwardt was a talented student in my music class at Mohr Elementary in Pleasanton. It's fun to work with former students on an equal basis in a play."

Playwright John Cariani explained that the people of "Almost, Maine" are rural Americans who are not "cuddly and cute" but they are "hard-working, ordinary people."

"They just take time to wonder about things," he said. "They are normally very grounded but sometimes they become excited by love -- and other extraordinary occurrences."

Performances are May 10-12: 8 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday, at the West End Theater, Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 Eighth St., Livermore.

Tickets are $25 general, and $20 seniors 62 and older. Purchase at or at the door, if available. Performances will be followed by a reception.

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