Pictured is the cast of "Almost, Maine" (front) Maya Allwardt, Rebecca Bernstein, Austin Maisler; (middle) Marsha Howard, Lesleyanne Coker, Pat Goard, Yana Ghannam, Donna Blevins, Robin Spindler; (back) Back row: Ray Spooner, Lea Blevins, Bob Cowgill, Nancy Grover, Martie Muldoon, Meredith Sarboraria, Bob Canning, Ron Smith, and Louie Hesemann.

Encore Players invites theatergoers to visit "Almost, Maine," a remote, mythical, almost-town where the townspeople explore love and loss one cold, clear, slightly surreal night during the Northern Lights. Performances are May 10-12: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 p.m., at the West End Theater, Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 8th St., Livermore. Ticket price ($25 General and $20 Senior 62-up) includes a "social" following each performance.

Ray Spooner, veteran actor, teacher, director, and Board Chair of Encore Players, makes his debut as Encore director. Ray has chosen to expand the cast to 16, ranging from high school age to seasoned actors.

“This play is a very deeply thoughtful piece on life and relationships,” Spooner said. “People at various stages of their own lives will see themselves reflected in one or more of these vignettes. Spread the word and enjoy this wonderful cast of players.”

Some of the actors have appeared in other Encore productions and a few are new; some are from Livermore or Pleasanton while others come from Martinez, Oakland, Sunol and Los Gatos.

Made up of eight individual scenes plus a prologue and epilogue, “Almost, Maine” gives each actor a chance to shine. The variety of vignettes will take the audience through humor, heartbreak, falling in love, and everything in between.

Co-producer Marsha Howard, a Pleasanton resident, is returning for another Encore production. “Once the acting bug bites you, it's hard to shake,” she said. “But as you age, you find fewer opportunities. I'm glad Encore provides opportunities for ‘mature’ actors.”

Livermore resident and winemaker Meredith Sarboraria joins the cast after previously participating in Encore classes and events.

"I love acting because I get to escape being me all the time,” she said. “When you're rehearsing or performing, you don't have a chance to think about the many things that you normally have to worry about. I love the challenge of transforming into a different person to see what that feels like. If I can make people laugh while I'm doing it, that's a bonus for me."

Ron Smith of Sunol, who has been a long-time Sunol Repertory Theatre participant, is a veteran actor but new to Encore. “It is a thrill to be working with Encore Players,” Smith said. “Quality community theater is and throughout history has been a key component of an informed life. Enjoy the show.”

Encore Vice Chair Martie Muldoon, also co-producing, returns for another show. She reflects, "After directing Encore’s most recent production, ‘The Last Romance,’ I’m excited to return to the stage with this unique play, I’m especially thrilled to be sharing the stage with two young ladies I taught and directed as youth. I worked with Rebecca Bernstein at Asbury Methodist Church, as youth choir and musical director. I ran into Rebecca at a blood drive, and invited her to audition as we were both donating blood. Maya Allwardt was a talented student in my music class at Mohr Elementary in Pleasanton. It’s fun to work with former students on an equal basis in a play.”

As described by playwright John Cariani, the people of “Almost, Maine” are rural Americans who are not “cuddly and cute.” The characters in this show are “hard-working, ordinary people. They just take time to wonder about things. They are normally very grounded but sometimes they become excited by love … and other extraordinary occurrences.”

Tickets can be purchased at www.lvpac.org or by calling 373-6800.