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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

SPRING PLAY PREVIEW: Premiering in the PAC on Thursday, Feb. 8, ‘Almost, Maine’ offers 9 vignettes about love

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Noah Lee
Senior Logan Villanueva (left) sits with sophomore Katie Fahl on a bench during the dress rehearsal of “Almost, Maine” on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Performing Arts Center.

With Valentine’s Day nearly a week away, students looking for or interested in love can satisfy their romantic notions by attending the spring play, “Almost, Maine,” which opens in the Performing Arts Center [PAC] Thursday, Feb. 8, and continues until Saturday, Feb. 10.

 “Almost, Maine,” originally written by American playwright and actor John Cariani two decades ago, depicts nine couples who discover complexities in their relationships while living through surreal experiences, theater teacher Christian Penuelas said.

“[The nine scenes] are all distinct variations of love stories,” Penuelas said. “Some are happy, sad or funny.”

The play’s title refers to a fictional town in the easternmost state of the U.S., where each of the vignettes are revealed to the audience.

Penuelas said he chose this production – considered in 2020 by NPR as the second most popular work produced in U.S. high schools – for the spring play because it explores various types of love while portraying realistic circumstances.

“We want to show that a lot of these realistic experiences are universal,” he said. “It is a unique play that shows love isn’t the easiest thing to comprehend.”

“Almost, Maine” also has a personal connection with the theater teacher.

“I know this play well because I was a part of it when I was in high school,” he said.

This time around, Penuelas has passed the director’s duties over to Wyatt Logan, a theater teacher at Whittier Christian High School who has coached the Sunny Hills improv team since 2023.

“I’m only the producer for this play,” he said. “[Logan] is dealing with the actors themselves so rehearsal has been going great.”

The director said working with Penuelas is an incredible partnership since the latter is creative and enthusiastic about theater.

“When he asked me to direct this play for the program, I was ready and willing to say yes,” he said. “It has been a joy to learn about this story, and [rehearsal] has been a fun time.”

One of those at rehearsals has been junior Katie Handley, who plays Gayle, a woman in a long-term relationship with Lendall.

“I was really excited when I found out I got the role,” said Handley, who is in Penuelas’ second period Theatre 3 class. “Mr. Logan’

s teaching style is very different because he tells us to go with the flow and do what feels right to us.”

Penuelas is confident that he made the right choice in being only the play’s producer this time around.

“I want to expose my students to a person who works really differently than I do,” he said. “They can gain experience and this sets them up for the real world if they choose to do [theater] in the future.”

While holding auditions for the main cast on Tuesday, Dec. 5, in the PAC, the theater teacher said he was looking for specific acting styles.

“I wanted to find actors who can convey the realness of what it means to be human,” Penuelas said of the 19 students cast for this production. “This is not necessarily an easy thing to find.”

Besides Valentine’s Day, the play’s run dates have been scheduled for a three-day holiday weekend since students and teachers have no school on Monday, Feb. 12, in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

In addition, the last day of the performance will be on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday.

With that in mind, Penuelas said: “I hope the audience finds joy in relating to the s

tory.”

Tickets for the 7 p.m. spring play, “Almost, Maine,” are on sale at www.shhstheater.com. General admission costs $15, while a ticket bought with an Associated Student Body Gold Card is $12. “Platform fees” apply to each purchase.

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Claire Lee, Staff Reporter
Junior Claire Lee enters The Accolade as a staff reporter after taking the Journalism 1 class during her sophomore year. Lee has written stories for the cub issue in the previous year, seeing it as a great opportunity to improve her writing skills and interact with the other staff members. Lee also participates in Link Crew, volunteer organizations outside of school and several clubs on campus. In her free time, she prefers to spend her time doing art and hanging out with friends.
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