NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

‘Almost Maine’ hits the stage at NECC

Two women on stage with wintry backdropPhoto courtesy of Brianne Beatrice

“Almost Maine” Cast members Adrianna Neefus and Mirrorajah Metcalfe

It’s fall at NECC. The leaves are changing, students are settling into their routines, and the annual autumn play is just around the corner. This year students and faculty are being treated to John Cariani’s “Almost, Maine” (stylized with a comma), directed by professor Brianne Beatrice. Having worked at NECC for the past 15 years and been involved in theater since her childhood, she’s earned several degrees that have helped bolster her nearly 20-year career as a professor in theater, acting, directing, and communications. This year’s play is one that Beatrice has a particular history with. 

“In 2008…I went to the Majestic in West Springfield and I saw a production of it (‘Almost, Maine’) and I fell in love with it,” she told me when asked how she first discovered the play. “I took the play to a theater in Marblehead and I pitched it.” She offered to handle everything herself, from directing, sound design, set design, costumes, to even starring in it. She was granted permission, and with the help of her friends who were fellow actors, they put on a production in 2010 to great success. This led them to being picked up by a theater program based in Salem, Mass, which paid Beatrice and her cast to revive the show in 2012.

This fall, Beatrice finds herself once again in the directing chair for “Almost Maine.” The cast and crew have been rehearsing the production since September, and Beatrice takes pride in her and her cast’s work.“I’m proud of all of it,” she answered when asked about her experience directing this production.  She highlighted the hardwork from the cast, as well as the pleasure to work with NECC alumni and professional actor Michael Zuccola, who is guest starring in the production. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn the professional field of acting and be inspired by someone who’s out in the world working in this field, and who was once a student here at NECC,” she added. “It’s super inspiring to see the students get excited about the work.” 

When asked why people should see “Almost Maine,” her original love for the play that she first discovered 15 years ago was still burning bright. “It’s just an incredible experience,” she answered. The play features a series of vignettes or stories between lovers, a premise that Beatrice likened to the film “Love Actually.”  

“It’s a great way to kick off the holidays and get into the spirit,” Beatrice added.

In addition to featured star Zuccola, the  production stars Adrianna Neefus, Mirrorajah Metcalfe, Olivia Barberian, Yuliana Troncoso and Angela Gabriel. Its show times are Oct. 26 at 4:00 p.m, Oct. 27 at 7:00 p.m, Oct. 28 at 7:00 p.m, and Oct 29 at 2:00 p.m. General admission is $20 and $10 for students and senior.