Burgeoning theatre company runs off-Broadway hit

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Wistfully remembering snowy days spent wrapped in a warm blanket in front of the fire place? In this warm weather, it’s hard to recall the winter with any sense of nostalgia. Still, while the grass certainly is greener, the only real way to thaw the cockles of your heart is a cup of cocoa. In this sunny heat, a group of actors are bringing just the thing as Jeezum Crow’s production of Almost, Maine will certainly make anyone’s heart just as warm as the weather outside.

“It’s about love and it’s endearing from start to finish,” says actor Jonathan Purvis. “Right from the beginning we just really enjoyed it. We just wanted to share this play with people. It was this great off-Broadway smash in the States so we thought, ‘This is great! We need to share this with the Calgary people.’”

Purvis joined on stage by actors Cam Ascroft (Hidden in this Picture, Lunchbox Theatre), Karen Johnson-Diamond (Writer’s Block, Ground Zero Theatre), and Cheryl Olson (Flop!, Quest
Theatre) as well as Ruby Dawn Eustaquio, who stage manages the production. The group met while touring a piece of children’s theatre in Alberta.

“The production we did together in the fall was my first time working with them and the Quest shows are quite a good tell of how you get along with people,” Purvis says. “We’re in a van together for weeks on end going to schools all over the province. We just fell in love with people and work together really well.”

Almost, Maine will be the first production put together by the group, whose moniker Jeezum Crow Theatre was inspired by a colloquialism used frequently in the play. Set in the fictional town of Almost, the play was written by John Cariani, who grew up in northern Maine and follows the stories of 19 different characters.

“Each scene is individualistic, each of the characters is different from scene to scene, except for the prologue,” Purvis explains. “Other characters will be mentioned, but each scene is unique. Together, all these scenes are supposed to create an overarching feeling even though they aren’t tied together.”

Like a good ol’ fashioned quilt work, the design of the production is much the same, coming together out of a collective contribution.

“It was great to tackle stuff that was different,” Purvis says. “I did some set design work, which was fun to do. Cheryl took on costumes, Cam did sound and Karen helped me with set design. It was still a collective because not everyone could be a single resource.”

With the charm of a warm cup of cocoa on a snowy day, the quaintness of a small Maine town and the feel of a well made quilt—what more could you want?

Almost, Maine runs at the Motel Theatre in the Epcor Centre from June 17–28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 except for the pay-what-you-can performance June 23.