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Young Vermont Director Presents 'Almost, Maine' At Stowe Theater Guild

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Sean Jacobsen
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Director Owen Leavey and actor Hannah McKay watch from the seats at Stowe Theater Guild as a cast of four rehearses "Almost, Maine," which is on stage through August 6.

This fall, Stowe native Owen Leavey heads back to New York City for the second of a two-year professional actors' training program at Cap21 Conservatory. But while he's home for the summer, he is taking on his directorial debut at Stowe Theater Guild with "Almost, Maine."

The play, written by John Cariani, contains nine sub-plays, each one set in a rural town on a mid-winter Friday night as couples navigate their way through various relationship dilemmas.

Leavey leads the small cast of four students to play 19 different characters. "We have three who just graduated high school about a month ago and one that's coming back from college," he says. "I personally knew all my cast members ahead of time but I'm just blown [away] because I didn't know what they were capable of."

Leavey says his first time directing a full-length play is like building a home. "I have this perfect analogy for directing: I was given a picture of a house that I needed to build ... so it's kind of like that's the script," he says. "Then me and my cast members – who I picked as my little crew to build my house – have gone in and we know every nail and every board. And then by the end of it, we can just welcome people in and they can just live in that little home that we've made for the two hours of the show and then they can go back out into the world."

Every Stowe Theater Guild show during the summer season has a community tie-in with proceeds going to benefit a non-profit organization. Leavey has chosen the Drama Club NYC, which provides theater programming to young people who are incarcerated.   

"I have this perfect analogy for directing: I was given a picture of a house that I needed to build ... then by the end of it, we can just welcome people in and they can just live in that little home that we've made for the two hours of the show and then they can go back out into the world." - Owen Leavey

The program is the only one of its kind in the state of New York. Leavey explains that acting teachers go into juvenile detention centers in New York City to teach improvisational acting methods. The goal is to give the young inmates a new tool of self-expression through acting and improv.

"I actually know the executive director," says Leavey. "She's an acting teacher of mine. Just some of the stories that she has shared about what these kids have said about how they now know how to express themselves. These are life-changing experiences."

"Hopefully, I'll get a career performing but after that, all I want to do is educate people."

He adds that the organization is important to him because his arts education is such a big part of his life. "Hopefully, I'll get a career performing but after that, all I want to do is educate people," says Leavey.

As for his plans after school, Leavey says, "Hopefully by the end of that, I'll be working on Broadway ... Even if I come back to Vermont and I'm running choral groups or directing theater ... I just want to lead children in greatness."

Devin Kiernan is the play's producer and the cast members are Max Chlumecky, Sean Jacobson, Hannah McKay and Drew Springer-Miller.

"Almost, Maine" runs through August 6 at Stowe Theater Guild on Main Street in Stowe.

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