The Houston production of Almost, Maine now playing on a rented stage at Stages Repertory Theatre has a back story almost as whimsical as the play itself -- offering equal measures of love story, pure luck and amazing coincidence.
Three of its actors, Kim Tobin, Georgi Silverman and Rick Silverman worked together at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York City. In 2003, a playwright named John Cariani workshopped his play at the Barrow. According to Georgi Silverman, she and her husband got to be close to Cariani, who she describes as "a person without cynicism or sarcasm."
"Years later Rick and I moved to Houston because we had a kid and he had family here," Georgi said. "Kim moved here because she had family here and we all ended up here."
Next, Tobin married Phillip Lehl, a local Alley actor. Both Georgi and Rick have day jobs -- she runs a tutoring business and he's an accountant, and they work with The Actors Gym at Stages, but wanted to do more. "We had all been talking about wanting to do something together for a long time," she said.
Lehl knew Kenn McLaughlin at Stages and told him he'd like to start a production, Georgi said. Whereupon Kenn told him about a play he'd had for a while "and you people would be perfect for it." It turned out to be Almost Maine.
"So it's kind of a series of coincidences that made us decide this would be the perfect project for us," Georgi said, laughing about what would become the first play put on by the newly formed Brave Dog Players.
The play, which takes place in far north Maine, is a series of vignettes about life in that (mostly) cold, cold climate, in particular, the love life of some of the inhabitants of this small, almost town.
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Four actors take on a total of 19 different parts during the roughly two-hour production which is presented in a series of vignettes. Chris Hutchison, on loan from the Alley, rounds out the troupe of players. They got props help from Stages and a few costumes on loan from the Alley Theatre.
"Stages has been fantastic," Georgi says. "It's giving us a lot of support and in turn it's helped them because they've had a tough year. Theaters are hit really hard by the recession so us being able to come in and rent their space and produce something there has been a benefit for them too. It's been a great cooperation."
She said they'd like to see that cooperation extended to the formation of a professional actors collaborative group in Houston and that Lehl and J.J. Johnston of Classical Theatre Company have been talking about that as a way to support new theater groups in the area.
Almost, Maine runs tonight, February 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Fridays through Sundays through February 21. 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123.