Will Cariani's New England Hit, Almost, Maine, Get a Sequel?

News   Will Cariani's New England Hit, Almost, Maine, Get a Sequel? Portland Stage Company, the resident Equity theatre in Maine, had such a hit with John Cariani's Almost, Maine in 2004, he's been invited to pen a sequel.
John Cariani
John Cariani Photo by Aubrey Reuben

PSC artistic director Anita Stewart told Playbill.com there is no timeline for a production for the next Maine-set script that Mainer (and now New Yorker) Cariani would write, but the company — and the audience — is eager for it.

"Almost, Maine is the best-single-ticket-selling show in the history of Portland Stage," Stewart told Playbill.com. "It did indeed sell out during its four week run in our season. We, unfortunately, were unable to extend because of its position in the season, but would have loved to do so. Audiences were charmed by the intimate, funny scenes. Many remarked that it was great to see small town U.S.A. reflected so clearly on stage."

Portland Stage likes to introduce new works, classics and world premieres to its audience, Stewart said. In addition to a mainstage season, it also presents an annual slate of new American works in reading form in "The Little Festival of the Unexpected." PSC's "From Away Festival" features international scripts in readings.

Gabriel Barre directed the Maine run of Almost, Maine, as well as the 2005-06 production that was snagged for a commercial Off-Broadway run at the Daryl Roth Theatre. The romantic comedy will close Feb. 12 after 30 previews and 37 performances. Almost, Maine, made up of scenes set in chilly Maine, opened Jan. 12, after previews Off-Broadway from Dec. 15, 2005.

(One might guess that the small cast and quirky, heartfelt tone of the play may be attractive to other regional theatres in coming seasons.) As an actor, Cariani received an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony nomination for his work as Motel in the recently closed revival of Fiddler on the Roof.

The Off-Broadway cast features Todd Cerveris, Justin Hagan, Miriam Shor and Finnerty Steeves.

Almost, Maine concerns the "residents of a small, northern town [who] are falling in and out of love at an alarming rate. Love is discovered; hearts are broken and mended — almost — in this midwinter night's dream," according to the Off-Broadway producers.

In addition to Fiddler on the Roof, John Cariani has also appeared on the New York stage in Two Gentlemen of Verona. His screen credits include "Scotland, PA," "Showtime," "Kissing Jessica Stein" and "Law & Order." He was a contributing playwright for The Audience, and his next play, Cul de Sac, will be produced within the year.

Bart Sher and Peter Still's The Tales of Washington Irving, Anne Bogart's Culture of Desire and Brian Silberman's Manifest are among new works that world premiered at Portland Stage.

PSC's 2005-06 season includes Lettice and Lovage, Lobby Hero, A Christmas Carol, Rough Crossing, I Am My Own Wife, The Price and Syncopation.

PSC was founded in 1974 at the Profile Theatre. For more information, visit www.portlandstage.com.