Monday, December 20, 2010

Arts Reporting: The Success of Broadway Flop 'Almost, Maine'

Thomas Cott's 'You've Cott Mail' publishes an excerpt from the December 17 article by Cara Joy David profiling the widespread success of the multicharacter piece done in January, 2009 by the Gaslight Baker Theatre in Lockhart and by McCallum Fine Arts Academy at the Blue Theatre in May, 2010:

New York flop becomes a hit everywhere else

From The New York Times, December 18, 2010David Young and Noelle Stroka in the Gaslight Baker's 2009 production of 'Almost, Maine'

by Cara Joy David

It closed a month after it opened Off Broadway. Most New Yorkers don't even remember it. Yet John Cariani's Almost, Maine, an earnest 19-character play about the romantic happenings one cold night in northern Maine, has since been produced around the world, including in Australia, Dubai and South Korea. More than 600 companies have put it on in the United States and Canada. And move over, Our Town, and other staples of the school auditorium stage. Almost, Maine was the most-produced play in North American high schools this year. It unseated Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream from the No. 1 high school slot.

Craig Pospisil of Dramatists Play Service described its slow build as a "real Cinderella story." Perhaps it helped that Dramatists representatives handed out colorful Almost, Maine buttons (left over from Off Broadway) at conferences. Or that Mr. Cariani and Jack Thomas, the show's original producer, sent out mailings to artistic directors, putting it on the regional circuit's radar.

Maybe it was because the play offered material students could perform at drama competitions and professional actors could present at auditions. Or could the key to success be that the text can be performed by as few as 4 people or as many as 19? "If you are a professional playwright looking to make it in New York, you write something with the smallest possible cast," said Doug Rand of Playscripts. "Amateur theater groups want to have as big a cast as possible. New York really hasn't generated that kind of work in decades. So, when you come across that work, it's like water in the desert."

Read more at the New York Times. . . .

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