Acting Cool: Practice Makes Perfect
When I think of art in the Saranac Lake Region, a ton of cool galleries, shops, and events come to mind. But, of course, I have a history of working in the performing arts, so my first love - theatre - is at front and center for this blog. And, when I think of acting in the Adirondacks, Pendragon Theatre is the place to be.
In case you haven’t been (WHY haven’t you been?) here’s the quick low-down. Pendragon Theatre is Saranac Lake’s only professional year-round theatre. Yes, live theatre - right here in the heart of the ADKs. Driving by, it is an unassuming space - you might easily overlook it. But as with many grassroots theatres, the company works with what’s available and affordable, and has evolved as the times change. And, as such, Pendragon is located in a converted garage that resembles a funky old barn. The theatre seats over 100 patrons, and also has a small art gallery to browse and a lovely little garden to relax in during intermission.
Start 'em off young...
Looking for something fun to do on a lazy Saturday morning, my 5-year-old sidekick, Oliver, and I decided to take in this year's family show. Now, while the title The Snow Queen, based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic tale, may not be familiar to all, the basis of the storyline surely is. Any adult that has been around a child in the past year or so has undoubtedly encountered references to Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff.
Oliver always loves going to the theatre. And Pendragon is the perfect place to introduce your youngster to the performing arts. Let me note: I started him out early as an audience member (hazard of working at a theatre) and he quickly learned the rules of live performances - after leaving just one time because he was talking and being otherwise overly child-like, we have never had another incident. Of course, he screamed and cried the whole way home because he did not get to see the ending of that one show, but he learned a valuable lesson on how to behave and the consequences if he didn't. One of the great things about Pendragon is that their children's show is geared to the youngest audience members. It is the perfect time to teach theatre etiquette. While it is, of course, preferable to show respect to the actors and remove any truly unruly tikes, the performers usually go into this show knowing there may be unusual giggles, exclamations, and the occassional need for a potty break.
DO You Want To Build A Snowman?
When I explained to Oliver that the show would be sort-of, kind-of, like the movie Frozen - but totally different - he was more than a little excited to head to the theatre. We arrived early to snap a few pictures, and then found our seats. The Director, Matt Sorensen, came out to introduce the show and the guest narrator for the day, Kent Streed. As the lights went down you could feel the excitement of the children waiting for "the magic." From the whispered conversations I eavesdropped on, this was a first live show for several of the kids - weren't they in for a treat!?!
The show is a bit under one-hour, has no intermission, and flows quickly from scene-to-scene to keep the kids (and adults) entertained. One of my favorite parts was the live narration. While I understand that many producers might utilize a voice-over system, I can't imagine sitting & just listening to the narration. I enjoyed watching the facial expressions of the narrator, and how he engaged the audience while leading the story from scene to scene. Every performance will feature a different local performer as the narrator - how cool is that!? Oliver will tell you that his favorite parts were the robbers, and the "SHINY!!" - I won't explain this in more detail, it is surely something you should experience for yourself.
The four actors all play a principal role as well as multiple supporting roles, and I give them kudos for bringing so many distinct characters to life. Clare Paulson and Peter Curtis are the young adventurers, while Leslie Dame plays the title character of the Snow Queen. Without giving away too many of the special effects of the show, I will also say that the puppeteering work by Lucky Cerruti was fantastic. Oliver LOVED the crow - loved him. LOVVVVVVED him. The lighting, simple set, and costumes were the perfect additions to round out this family show.
Let 'Em Go...
Seriously, let them go. Bring the kids, let them experience a real theatre show. Teach them that they are watching live people and watch them as they fall silent, enthralled by the action on stage. In this day and age of electronics (yes, my kid loves his time on his Kindle), you may be shocked by the fact that a few special effects and well-designed props still have the power to transport a child into an imaginary world. But they do, it's true.
And, this is pretty awesome... at the end of the show, the actors will often come out in costume for an audience meet & greet session. Stick around for this and you won't be disappointed!
Never ask a group of theatre folk to pose for a picture... this is what happens:
Follow up note:
My proof that live theatre has the power to unleash the imagination? This past Sunday (a couple of weeks after first seeing the show) we returned to Pendragon so I could gather some additional information on upcoming shows. Coincidentally, The Snow Queen was about to start. Oliver begged me to stay. I shouldn't say that - he didn't beg me. He literally demanded we see it again, went in, chose his seat and settled down to watch it all over again. There are certain times I would fight such a demand, but when it comes to my child choosing to watch live theatre, use his imagination, and excitedly replay details of what we should expect to see while recounting the lessons the show teaches us, well, to me... that's a true parenting win. Thanks, Pendragon. Play, on!
Of course, Pendragon has more on its summer lineup than just the fabulous family show.
Here's a quick breakdown of what you can expect to see this season at the theatre - call ahead for reservations and more information at 518.891.1854, or swing by the theatre and pick up a brochure. They're located at 15 Brandy Brook Lane.
The Snow Queen continues:
July 7th, 14th, 28th & 29th @ 11AM | August 4th, 8th, 15th, 18th & 29th @ 11AM
Next up at Pendragon, the musical Tintypes:
Opening on Broadway in 1980, the same year that Pendragon was founded, Tintypes serves as a musical tribute to the creation of this theater. This Tony nominee for Best Musical revolves around 5 characters from the turn of the 20th century, including Teddy Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Emma Goldman and Anna Held.
July 7 - 10 & 14 - 17 @ 8PM | July 11 & 18 @ 2PM
Later in the season catch these fun shows (check for specific dates & times):
The off-kilter 2013 Tony Award-winner for Best Play, Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike will take the stage with performances from July 23 to August 7.
Tom Stoppard's Arcadia will be featured from August 13-28. This ravishing comedy is a play of wit, intellect, and emotion exploring the mysterious past and present-day occupants of an English manor house.
Rounding out the season, Chekhovs's dark comedy, The Seagull, is onstage from September 3-13.
Stay & Play
Pick your show(s) and plan your Saranac Lake getaway today. Check out our awesome lodging options, dine at our tasty eateries, and suspend your disbelief. As they say at Pendragon... The Play's The Thing.
This week in related ADK news: