Volunteer actors tell heart-warming, relatable story

Waco actors show their love for theater by volunteering to perform “Almost, Maine” at the Waco Civic Theater. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Waco Civic Theatre. Admission is $18 for Baylor students and $20 for non-students Thursday through Saturday and $16 for Baylor students, $18 for non-students on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.wacocivictheatre.org/movies/almost-maine/. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

The Waco Civic Theatre debuted the play “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy that gives audiences a window into the love lives of the citizens of Almost, last weekend.

Director Todd Martin likened the play to the movie “Love, Actually,” saying fans of the movie will enjoy a similar style of storytelling in “Almost, Maine.” Each scene presents a new set of characters facing a unique challenge in their relationships.

“All the scenes take place at the same time on the same night, and they all deal with different aspects of relationships,” Martin said. “Even though the scenes are not narratively connected to each other, they all fall under those themes of love and loss and hope.”

According to Martin, the characters sometimes face ridiculous circumstances, but the deeper meaning of each scene will ring true for audience members.

“All the characters are so human, and all the situations are so human,” Martin said. “But there are surreal elements to each of the scenes.”

Martin has directed and acted in many plays before, but this is his first experience working with the Waco Civic Theatre. He said his acting experience helped him become a better director, because he understands the challenges his actors face.

“Everybody’s volunteering their time. None of the actors are paid,” Martin said. “You have to realize that they all have families, jobs and other commitments.”

Martin himself has other commitments as an assistant technical director at Waco Hall. He manages the lighting for events such as Chapel, All-University Sing and After Dark.

Baylor students might recognize Kenny Lopez, a newcomer to Waco Civic Theatre who can be found making flying saucers in Memorial Dining Hall before he leaves for rehearsal.

Lopez said he was very active in his high school theater program but wasn’t able to find the time to audition for a play when he was a Baylor student. Now that he’s taking a semester off, he said he was thrilled to return to the stage.

“I walked into the theater and I just got this huge grin on my face from being back on stage,” Lopez said. “It’s good to be back.”

He said he enjoyed working with a diverse cast of varying ages, backgrounds and theater experience.

“This cast is very eccentric,” Lopez said. “They all bring a lot to the table, and it’s coming together nicely.”

Lopez is one of several actors performing in the Waco Civic Theatre for the first time, but regular patrons will recognize some familiar faces in “Almost, Maine” from previous productions.

Cast member Phillip Diaz said he is very involved with the Waco Civic Theatre and has appeared in many shows in the venue before. He manages the theater’s box office and is making preparations to direct the musical “RENT” in May.

Diaz said performing in “Almost, Maine” has been a very different experience from the musicals he usually performs in. His character, Jimmy, runs into an ex-girlfriend and attempts to win her back.

“Jimmy has a temper, and it gets riled up in my scene,” Diaz said. “Allowing that to come out is different, and it’s hard.”

Diaz says he hopes that audiences leave the show believing that love is possible at anytime, with anyone.