Manhattan College Players Return for Spring with “Almost, Maine!

By, Grace Cardinal, Asst. News Editor

It’s that time of year again! Manhattan College Players return with a production of  “Almost, Maine!” for their spring play, taking the stage on March 3, 4 and 5. 

“Almost, Maine!” is a show written by John Cariani. It is going to be a student-run production allowing the cast to have full creative control over the production. Students are given the unique opportunity to openly explore their roles and discover new skills in a capacity they may not have in a professional setting.

Billy Walker, sophomore marketing chair of the Players, explains that the play was about love and focuses on the different ways people interpret and experience love with their partners despite there being a chance of losing them. He expressed being excited about being in a student-run production on campus and being able to collaborate with his peers. 

“There’s always something fun about student productions,” said Walker. “We all get to explore it on our own without having professionals in the room. We all get to explore our roles on our own and discover how we can use those skills in our everyday lives.” 

RJ Giannicchi, senior and production director, talked about his thought process and how he went about creating different scenes. 

“When it comes to directing the play, you need to figure out not only how you want your actors to come across as a character, but also literally how they’re going to come across,” said Giannicchi. “I go scene by scene and I picture it as if I’m watching it myself. If I was in the audience, how would I like this? How would I want to see that? And then trying to articulate that to as many people as precisely and efficiently as possible.”

In addition to the traditional in-person auditions that the Players always hold, those auditioning for “Almost, Maine!” had a new, online option this semester. 

“Almost, Maine!” was a little bit different because we wanted to do self-tapes as well,” said Giannicchi. “If you didn’t have time or you just didn’t feel like showing up in person, you could over [winter] break, film yourself and submit it that way.”

Due to this new option, more students had the opportunity to audition and get involved. 

“We were thinking this would be a great, easy way to get more people to get involved and it just gives us a much bigger timeline,” said Walker. “I think by doing [virtual auditions] over winter break, many more people were allowed to audition.”

Auditions for “Almost, Maine!” wrapped up on Tuesday, Jan 24., leaving the cast anticipating the start of rehearsals. 

“I think my favorite part is getting to work with everybody again, there are new people, there are old people,” said sophomore stage manager Annie Brennan. “And I like the story. I like that it’s about love, it’s about loss, it’s about both. Love comes with sadness, and it comes with a bunch of other emotions. So I think that’s really a fun thing to put out there.”

While the public may see the production at its perfection, this will not happen overnight. Over the next month and a half, the cast will work tireless hours each week to make sure the play is stage ready. While auditions have wrapped up, Players is always open to those interested in the behind-the-scenes stage work. 

“Players wants literally anybody. We love having new people, we love making new friends, we love having literally anybody help out. There’s always room in Players,” said Brennan.

“Usually our rehearsal blocks tend to be two to three hours each,” explained Brennan. “Last time we were doing them like three times a week, sometimes four, sometimes five. Sometimes for tech week, you’re there all day, every day.” 

Making the play a success comes down not only to time spent in rehearsals but to the ability to work together as a team. 

“For me personally, this is totally a team effort. It’s just a big team effort and I think theater, in general, is a huge team effort, which people say all the time,” said Brennan. “I think the biggest lesson is just getting to meet the other people that you work with and then they really turn into your best friends. That’s where I met all of my friends.”

The community aspect of the Players club in general is something members say they will walk away with.

“The community and connections are what I’m going to walk away with from Players,” said Giannicchi. “Getting to meet all these people, getting to work with all these people, and just make something fun, it’s an experience that I don’t think I get enough of in life. I’ve been very gracious to Players to have those opportunities.”

Taking part in Player’s productions is rewarding for everyone involved, despite what position you may have or what character you play.

“The most rewarding part is when you actually see the performance put on, you’re seeing all the work that you did and what it led to,” said sophomore technical director Marc Cardone. “You’ll get comments from people about it saying ‘good work’ and that’s the most rewarding part.”

So why should you get tickets? Walker says it’s all about the feel-good story. 

“They should buy tickets because it’s just a cool story about love. It’s just one of those heartwarming shows where you get to see different couples experiencing love, whether it’s from friends to love, love to hate or hate to love. It’s just one of those really good feel shows I think everyone’s going to love,” concluded Walker.

For more information about their upcoming shows, follow their Instagram page @playersmc