“Almost Maine” actors James Torres and Jessica Enger chat before a dress rehearsal. (Gary Herron/Observer)
If the newest production by the Rio Rancho Players had been “Almost, North Dakota” instead of “Almost, Maine,” Jessica Enger probably would have skipped the auditions.
She’s had enough acting in North Dakota, so after she and her husband moved to Rio Rancho for her job, she discovered Rio Rancho Players and tried out for a role or two.
Enger, 29, said her love for acting began when she was in sixth grade. She’s a veteran of community theater, having been the lead role in “Sylvia” – “a personified dog,” she said – and Susie, the blind girl, in “Wait Until Dark.”
This native of Montrose, Colo., was happy to depart Bismarck, N.D., where she had been living, happy to get a governmental job as a soil scientist in New Mexico.
She got them, and appears in two of the 10 short plays within “Almost, Maine,” which premiered at the Portland State Company in Portland, Maine, in 2004 where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. It moved to off-Broadway where it ran with much success for over a year.
James Torres, 35, of Albuquerque also appears in two of the plays, and you may have seen him before. He had a speaking role in Episode 8 of “Better Call Saul,” in which he was an Albuquerque cop.
A wrestler who wanted to be a professional football player while attending Del Norte High School, he never dreaming about acting – until recently.
“I started getting into film-acting,” Torres said, seeing auditions for “Almost, Maine” on Facebook.
“I never tried theater. I thought, ‘What the heck.’”
“They’re nice kids,” “the play’s director, Mel Sussman, said. “The most-difficult thing about this play is matching up the cast. I had 10 scenes to play and it’s all couples. The match-ups are really important, that they work together. As they went through their auditions, they turned out to be a perfect match.”
Following its successful first season which included the close to sold-out productions of “Our Town” and “A Little Piece of Heaven,” “Almost, Maine” has nine performances. It opens Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and still has performances also slated for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29, and Nov. 5, 11 and 12, and 2 p.m. matinees Oct. 30, and Nov. 6, 12 and 13.
“Almost, Maine” is a romantic comedy – nine short plays exploring love and loss and somewhere in between — in remote Almost, on the border of Maine and Canada.
The play has a cast and production team of more than two-dozen area residents, ranging in age from 16-60. The production is produced and directed by Sussman, the Players’ founder.
“Almost, Maine” is performed at the Avix Performance Center, 4311 Sara Road, in the second-floor black box theater. Tickets can be purchased online at RR-CC.org or at either of the Players’ two remote Rio Rancho box office locations: Pet Food Gone Wild or Beast N’ Nuggets Doggie Day Care. Tickets can also be purchased at the theater box office starting one hour prior to curtain.
Looking into 2023, the Rio Rancho Players will stage the classic comedy-thriller farce “Arsenic and Old Lace” in April.