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They say a great actor makes a great director. In the case of “Almost, Maine,” continuing for the next two weekends at Las Cruces Community Theatre, it’s absolutely the truth.
Brandon Brown was brilliant as Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” which marked LCCT’s successful return to live theatre after an 18-month pandemic break. It’s one of many, many memorable roles he’s performed on just about every stage in Las Cruces.
As soon as “Harvey” closed, Brandon stepped into the role of director for “Almost, Maine,” and brought more than a pocketful of the magic of “Harvey” with him.
There’s no 6-foot invisible rabbit in this show (at least I don’t think so), but it has the same enchanting, mystical quality that makes you believe in good things and good people. It has moments that are very sad, deeply insightful and hysterically funny. (I hurt myself a bit from laughing so hard at the scenes with the ironing board and the missing shoe.) There’s also more than a sprinkling of fairy dust in these stories, with endings we all wish were possible; maybe, they are in a place called Almost, Maine.
That’s the fictious town created by playwright John Cariani for this exceptional work. It features four outstanding Las Cruces actors: Nora Brown (related to Brandon only through talent), McKensi Alexis Cabot, Rhiannon Michelle Hardin and Melis Derya White.
I cannot say enough for their performances, both individually and together. Each one shines like the Northern Lights. I was deeply touched by each actor at one or more points in the show, and I was especially impressed with how each played their male characters – no hamming it up, just applying the same skill and talent they brought to every other character.
The play continues the outstanding work that Nora, McKensi and Melis have done in many Las Cruces venues and it welcomes Rhiannon to the LCCT theatrical family – “Almost, Maine” is the first show she’s done in more than 10 years. What a cast!
Brandon also benefits from a great crew, including stage manager Cindy Pitts; the wonderful costumes designed by Yamilex Holguin; sound designer Mike Wise; lighting designer Bekah Taulbee; board operator Jessie M. Ortega; properties by Lennie Brown (she is related to Brandon both by marriage and by talent) for properties and set decoration, with help from Greta Burger; and absolutely fabulous (and sometimes excellently mobile) sets, with scenic design by Doug Roby and Marc Forbes, who were assisted in building the set by Larry Fisher, Alecks Rundell, Alice Carron and cast members. Heidi Brown did the excellent window display and the photos and worked backstage.
Remaining performances of “Almost, Maine” are at 7:30 pm. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 15-16 and 22-23 and 2 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 17 and 24.
LCCT is located at 313 N. Main St. Downtown.
Tickets are $17 for adults; $14 for senior citizens, military and students; and $10 for children.
Call 575-523-1200. Visit www.lcctnm.org.