00 News & Updates, 2016 Almost Maine, 2016 The Christmas Post

Three USP Finalists for Four ICTA Awards


Union Street Players, Pella’s award winning community theatre, is proud to announce that three 2016 production crew members have been announced as finalists for four of the Iowa Community Theatre Association’s (ICTA) annual awards for excellence. Finalists are:

  • Mat Kelly for excellence in scene design for Almost, Maine
  • Mat Kelly for excellence in scene design for The Christmas Post
  • Karen Ryals for excellence in choreography for The Christmas Post
  • Arvin Van Zante for excellence in Lighting for Almost, Maine

Awards will be presented at ICTA’s annual festival. The festival is being held on March 17-18 in Marshalltown.

Several other actors and crew from both 2016 products were nominated for awards in numerous categories, but were not named as finalists. The nominees names will, however, appear in the ICTA Festival program.

Congratulations to our three finalists!


USP’s next production, Noises Off, will be performed March 30 through April 2nd on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center. For more information, please visit http://www.unionstreetplayers.com or visit USP’s Facebook page.


2016 Almost Maine, Slider Posts

Chilly Night in “Almost, Maine” Warms Hearts

USP Almost Maine Cast Photo - 1 (1)

Almost, Maine is set in the depths of winter on a moonless night in northern Maine. It’s a chilly, snowy setting and much of the cast, costumed by Linda McQuade, spend their time on stage sweating in full winter regalia. It’s one of the many contrasts that playwright John Cariani wove into the magical, heart-warming tales of love and relationships. On Sunday April 17, Union Street Players production of Almost, Maine ended its four show run with a good word-of-mouth crowd who endured unseasonably warm temperatures both outside and inside the Joan Kuyper Farver auditorium.

Directed by Kevin McQuade, who made his USP directorial debut, the seven cast members delighted audiences with the script’s nine vignettes which produced both laughter and tears. The ensemble cast was anchored by a number of USP veterans including Spence Ver Meer, Jana De Zwarte, Wendy Vander Well, Tom Vander Well and Sara Collins. Ana Lucia Riegstad was cast in her third straight USP production and Stephanie Lantz made her USP stage debut. Tyler Coleman and Charlee Eekhof provided musical accompaniment between scenes. The show was well managed by Stage Manager Alex Dean, a student at Theatre Central. Pat Moriarity joined the show mid-stream to act as Producer (sadly, his last USP show before he and Peggy move to Arkansas). Arvin Van Zante ran the lights and sound, and Mark Schaefer provided back stage assistance. Mat Kelly designed the minimalist set. Cody Kori assisted with sound effects.

Spring productions are typically smaller shows for Union Street Players. The productions are performed between February and April with average attendance numbers (363) which fall well below those of summer productions (884) and holiday shows (1009). The four show run of Almost, Maine was slightly above average with 374 audience members over the four performances:

Thu Apr 14:  58
Fri Apr 15:  141
Sat Apr 16:  80
Sun Apr 17: 95


Next up for Union Street Players:

Sabrina Fair by Samuel A. Taylor
Directed by Cyndi Atkins
Roles for 14 adults ages 21-81
Auditions May 10/12 at 6:30 p.m.; May 14 at 9:00 a.m.

00 News & Updates, 2016 Almost Maine

5 Reasons to See USP’s “Almost, Maine”

Union Street Players’ production of Almost, Maine is the place to be April 14-17th. The spring production is a romantic comedy that has, in recent years, become the most produced play in community theatres and schools across the United States. Critics have called Almost, Maine the Our Town of the 21st century. The popular play is sure to delight local audiences, but there are other reasons to mark your calendars and get purchase your tickets:

  1. Almost, Maine will be the local directing debut of Kevin McQuade, Executive Director of the Pella Opera House. Kevin has a master’s degree in directing and has taught theatre in both the secondary and college levels. Kevin brings a wealth of experience to the local stage and USP is excited to have a director with such talent at the helm of our show. As an audience member, you will be delighted with the results!
  2. Local audiences have come to expect great things from our talented veteran actors, and Almost, Maine features a number of them in the ensemble including Jana DeZwarte, who won the ICTA award for Best Actress as Miss Hannigan in Annie and recently starred as the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Spence Ver Meer has been USP’s memorable leading man as Captain Von Trapp in Sound of Music and as Emile DeBecque in South Pacific. Sara Collins has been a regular on the USP stage, starring as Grandma Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof and Gertrude McFuzz in Suessical the Musical. Wendy Vander Well has starred in a number of comedic roles for USP over the years including Gladys Iskowitch in Ham Buns and Potato Salad, Olive Madison in The Odd Couple, and Corrie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park. Tom Vander Well is remembered for his role as Lars Knudsen in O.L.D. Radio and as the Elvis impersonating Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. You don’t want to miss this amazing group of experienced actors on stage together!
  3. USP is proud to continually give new residents and aspiring actors a chance to shine. Ana Lucia Reigstad made her USP debut last summer in Fiddler on the Roof and then made a memorable turn as villain Fenris Ulf in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Stephanie Lantz makes her local debut in Almost, Maine and you don’t want to miss her gut busting antics in the show’s finale!
  4. The shows nine vignettes about love and relationships is tied together with amazing live music from the talented of Charlee Eekhoff (our Fiddler from last summer’s Fiddler on the Roof) and Tyler Coleman.
  5. Almost, Maine takes place at 9:00 p.m. on a moonless night in the depths of winter in northern Maine. The set is artistically staged by Mat Kelly and Curtis Brobst and the Aurora Borealis (aka Northern Lights) will delight audiences thanks to the veteran lighting wizardry of USP Walk of Fame member Arvin Van Zante. The show also features audio effects designed by Cody Kooi who has engineered sound on over ten USP shows.

Almost, Maine will be performed April 14-16 at 7:00 p.m. and April 17 at 2:00 p.m. on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center (712 Union Street, Pella, 50219). Tickets are available for purchase at a reduced fare in advance on-line at http://ticketpeak.com/events/usp . Any remaining seats will be available for purchase at the door. If you have any questions, please call USP’s virtual box office 641-204-1094.

2016 Almost Maine

Tickets on Sale for “Almost, Maine”!


Jana DeZwarte and Spence Ver Meer rehearsing a scene from "Almost, Maine"
Jana DeZwarte and Spence Ver Meer rehearsing a scene from “Almost, Maine”

Union Street Players, Pella’s award-winning community theatre, is excited to announce that tickets for our spring production, Almost, Maine, are now on sale! Simply click the button below to securely purchase tickets online!

purchase tickets button

About Almost, Maine

Although many people have never heard of the show, Almost, Maine, it has rocketed from obscurity to become the most frequently produced show in schools and community theatres across the United States. Don’t miss your opportunity to see this instant classic for the first time and see for yourself what audiences across the country are raving about!

The play is set in a mythical, unincorporated community in northern Maine called “Almost” (population 300). It is a moonless night in the depths of the harsh Maine winter and the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are ablaze in the sky.  Through the course of the evening audiences meet nine different couples experiencing diverse relational circumstances and in nine different, unique scenes. Each scene takes place minutes before 9:00 p.m. and each couple experiences a “magical” moment at exactly the same 9:00 p.m. moment. It is a romantic comedy sure delight!

“This snowy play will leave you much warmed, and in more ways than you may have expected.” The Des Moines Register

“Mega-hit ALMOST, MAINE lands somewhere between Norman Rockwell and ‘Our Town.’ Unabashedly unhip. There is no pretense of an edge here — the show offers a sweetness and decency that’s become rare at the theater. At this point, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.” The New York Post (2014)

“AMOST, MAINE’s charm is real. [It] packs wit, earns its laughs and, like love, surprises you.” The New York Daily News (2014)

“Entirely charming. Hilarious. Sweet but not cloying. ALMOST, MAINE is a fairy tale, or a collection of them, and it’s quiet enough, subtle enough, funny enough…that we believe.” The New York Observer

“Escape from cell phones and city tensions to a world where a kiss is not just a kiss, but a life changing big deal.” CurtainUp.com (2006)

“Bewitching. Unashamed warmth emanates through every minute of ALMOST, MAINE. A heady antidote for the frostbitten cynicism that is currently defining our world.” TalkinBroadway.com (2014)

“Heartwarming and comedic. Complex. Complicated. [ALMOST, MAINE charts the] search for intimacy in the midst of ennui and profound loneliness.” TheaterReviews.com (NY)

“Catchy and creative. The perfect date show for young and old alike.”AM New York

Performance Dates/Times

Thu Apr 14 at 7:00 p.m.
Fri Apr 15 at 7:00 p.m.
Sat Apr 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Sun Apr 17 at 2:00 p.m.

All shows on the stage of the Joan Kuyper Farver Auditorium in the Pella Community Center, 712 Union Street, Pella, IA 50219.

All pre-show tickets are sold on-line. Tickets may also be purchased at the door (typically $2.00 more) of any performance, subject to availability.

Questions? Call USP’s virtual box office at 641-204-1094

purchase tickets button

2016 Almost Maine

“Almost, Maine” Cast Announcement

A note of thanks and respect to all who auditioned: Please allow me to thank each and every person who auditioned. Casting decisions are always difficult, and are not made lightly. I appreciate and respect your talent and your courage. Please let me know if you have any questions about your auditions—I welcome those conversations and would be happy to meet with you one-on-one to have a dialogue about your audition and my observations of them. Most importantly, thank you for actively participating in theatre.

Kevin McQuade

Almost, Maine
Cast and Production Staff




Man 1                               Tom Vander Well (Pete, Steve, Lendall, Randy, Daniel)

Man 2                               Spence Ver Meer (East, Jimmy, Chad, Phil, Dave)

Woman 1                         Wendy Vander Well (Ginette, Gayle, Hope)

Woman 2                         Jana De Zwarte (Marvalyn, Marci)

Woman 3                         Sara Collins (Glory, Waitress)

Woman 4                         Stephanie Lantz (Suzette, Rhonda)

Woman 5                         Ana Lucia Reigstad (Sandrine)

Guitar                               In discussion

Violin                                In discussion


Production Team


Director                            Kevin McQuade

Assistant Director/

Stage Manager                Alex Dean

Set Design                        Mat Kelly

Tech Director                   Curtis Brobst

Light Design                     TBA

Sound                               TBA

Costumes                         Linda McQuade

Props                                TBA

The first rehearsal will take place Tuesday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the McQuade home at 201 Utrecht Laan in Pella. Directions will be sent under separate cover to the cast and production team. Please bring a pencil with an eraser and your calendar device (iPad, phone, actual paper calendar, etc.).