The Westminster theatre department presents: Love/Sick by John Cariani

     Love is in the air this fall as the Westminster theatre department prepares to perform John Cariani’s play, Love/Sick. The play is a sequel of sorts to Cariani’s Almost, Maine, currently the most performed play in American high schools. Almost, Maine is a series of interlocking vignettes, or scenes, set in the fictional town of Almost, Maine, all of which are about falling in love. According to director Maggie Bailey, Westminster has performed Almost, Maine twice in the last 10 years. 

     “It’s really well received,” said Bailey. “[Love/Sick is] the same concept of interlocking vignettes. They’re a little bit more serious this time, so instead of being people’s first meeting, it looks at things a little further into a relationship or into marriage.” 

     There are only two characters per scene. The scenes and characters don’t overlap, but they do connect, with every scene introducing two new characters at some point in their relationship. The scenes begin with one partner being in a crisis of some kind, and the other having a great emotion.

     Three years ago, Bailey saw Love/Sick performed at Thescon, the Georgia Thespian Conference. Thescon hosts nearly 5,000 highschool age thespians and their directors every year, with plays performed by schools with a really well-done performance. 

     “I was really struck by the fact that it was still really approachable like Almost, Maine is, but maybe with a little bit more of a challenge for our actors,” said Bailey. “It takes on slightly more serious themes, and that seemed like a really nice spot to give our kids.” 

     While there were nine vignettes originally written for the entire play, only six of the nine will be performed at Westminster. 

    “With the fall play, it’s nice to have a pretty tight show,” said Bailey. “The musical is a much bigger extravaganza, and then the fall play comes in and it’s just a quick pop of love. I’m more like a producer, and Schyler Rowland is the student direction. On the other hand, I’m also excited for Cabot Kimball. She’s the strongest stage manager I’ve worked with in my ten years here.” 

      Junior Max Norman, an actor, is the most excited about the first scene of the show. 

     “I’m interested to see the audiences’ reaction to this scene in particular,” said Norman.

     Preparations for the performance started in mid-September. At first, practice is just two to three hours every day in the middle school drama room. However, as opening night draws closer, rehearsals start getting longer and move into Kellett. 

     “It’s building momentum of like, two hour rehearsals become four hour rehearsals,” said Bailey.  

     At this point, students are doing a lot of character work, like trying to figure out who their character is. Blocking is another important element in planning the actor’s movements across the stage. 

     “Recently, we have been memorizing lines and taking notes on how our created version of our characters would act and say certain things,” said Norman. “My partner and I have been excelling at running our lines, but blocking is where we are having trouble. Moving at a certain time, being prepared for a reaction or counter-action from each other, and remembering lines on top of all that, is a lot to do at once.” 

     Another challenge was presented in a scene where junior Madison Harrell plays a singing telegram. The script provides no music, so Harrell must create her own song. 

     “Set-wise it’s pretty minimal,” said Bailey. “Love/Sick is much more stripped-down, but with lots of feelings, which makes it so technically challenging. Katie Kronauge and Max Norman have the most difficult scene: almost everything they say, they say at the same time. And they have to kiss 15 times.” 

      “For now, we have only been doing high fives for every kiss,” said Norman. “It has been interesting to see how the directors have wanted to play that.” 

     While some might think that kissing on stage is awkward, the crew works diligently to make it look realistic. 

     “It’s not a problem,” said Bailey. “There’s a lot of ways to look like you’re kissing. Kissing on stage is actually really technical, because it’s like a dance.” 

     With a play like Love/Sick, centered around romance and the sad or difficult aspects of love, it might be hard to believe that it’s something everyone can enjoy. 

     “I think we ended up with the best possible cast, and I think that everyone who comes to the show, be it parents, grandparents, kids, younger siblings, will have a moment that just tugs on their heartstrings,” said Bailey.

     Love/Sick will be playing at 4:30 on Friday, November 15th and at 7:00 on Saturday, November 16th in Kellett theater. 

     “The Friday show is at 4:30, so you could go with your friends, get some candy, watch some people fall in love, have some laughs, and then go to the football game,” said Bailey.

      The fall play has no tickets, but as a special bonus, Bailey, who likes to sew, has made 20 scrunchies for the first 20 people who show up.