The young cast members of Rossford High School's latest dramatic production are getting an insight into love and relationships, a complex, frustrating subject sometimes even for adults.
Their play, Almost, Maine, actually consists of seven short plays, all of them featuring different characters. The title is the same as the play's setting, the fictional small town of Almost, Maine, inspired by playwright John Cariani's hometown of Presque Isle, Maine.
"It's a modern romantic comedy," said Julie Zatko, the drama director and a 1991 graduate of the high school. "This is the number one show that high schools do. It's become very popular."
She said she and assistant director Ryan Mahaffey learned of Almost, Maine at high school theater conferences, where it was performed repeatedly.
As grown-up as the subject matter is, "my kids fell in love with it," she said. "It's well written. There's not a weak scene. There are so many magical moments too. It deals with complex and different stages of romance. The couples are young, and I think that makes it popular. It's more accessible to the kids."
Parents who have sat in on rehearsals have signaled their approval as well, she noted. "They say, 'Yep, yep, that's the way it goes.' "
The characters of the play can be odd. For sophomore Hannah Peterson, the character of Rhonda was a little hard to empathize with.
"She's very moody," Hannah said. "She works in the lumber industry, and competes in arm-wrestling contests. She's afraid of falling in love."
Still, she said, Rhonda does change in the course of her scene. The other character, Dave, wants to give her a present because he is in love with her, but she rejects the gift and him.
"Then he kisses her, and she gradually accepts him," Hannah explained.
Haley Peterson, a junior, said her character, Glory, was "a little weird." Glory arrives in Maine to see the Northern Lights in memory of her late husband and camps out in the yard of a complete stranger, who immediately professes his love for her.
"I know I'd be a little creeped out if somebody camped out in my yard," she said.
Drama Club president Sarah Gerren said the cost of the production would be less than $1,000, funds that come out of the club's reserves. Ms. Zatko said another advantage of producing Almost, Maine, is the reasonable cost of its rights: $75 per performance. "That's a good price," she said.
Sarah also is a performer in the play and observed that she had no similarities with her character, Gayle.
"She is a mid to late 20s fiery girl who, when she is upset about something, she lets you know. I'm not one to yell. Playing her gets me out of my comfort zone," she said.
Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens.