SARANAC LAKE - With new leadership at Pendragon Theatre comes a big change.
This summer's plays will not be run in repertory like they have in years past. Instead, each production will run a straight two to three weeks, then end.
The theater has run its summer seasons in repertory since it started having regular summer seasons, with shows running for a few days then stopping for a bit while another show runs, with several shows rotating through at a time.
Pendragon Theatre celebrated Mae West (played by Brandy Clark) in 2013’s “Dirty Blonde.”
(Photo courtesy of Pendragon Theatre)
But now that Executive and Artistic Director Karen Lordi-Kirkham and Managing Director David Zwierankin have taken over from theater co-founders Susan Neal and Bob Pettee, they decided to try a season with each play having a discrete set of production dates.
Lordi-Kirkham told the Enterprise that Pendragon staff were hearing from many people that they would hold out too long to see a show and miss the last few dates, thinking there were more. So she said the idea is to have a clearer set of show dates so theater-goers won't miss as many plays.
There are other perks to the new setup as well. In the past, there used to be a set company of actors who would spend the whole summer at Pendragon playing different roles in each show. Lordi-Kirkham said that doesn't happen so much anymore; now actors will come to the area for just a show or two, or local talent will only have time to act in one play. This change will mean those actors will have to give up less time to participate.
"It's much easier for me to get someone to commit for like five weeks, as opposed to a whole nine-week season," she said.
It's also tough for actors to keep the momentum of a play going if they have to shift in and out of characters every few days, or even multiple times a day. Lordi-Kirkham said she's hoping the change will lead to the quality of acting staying strong throughout a run.
In the past, a set always had to be somewhat removable to make way for other sets. Lordi-Kirkham said set designs haven't always been the most practical in those terms, but now it won't be an issue at all. They will even be able to paint the stage for shows now, something they haven't been able to do in the past.
"It does open up some artistic possibilities," Lordi-Kirkham said.
She said most of the feedback she's heard so far has been positive about the change.
Each show will consist of about 14 performances over two-and-a-half to three weeks. Every play chosen for the season fits within the theme of dreams and imagination. Having a season-long theme is something Lordi-Kirham instituted in 2013 with a theme of "Saints and Sinners," and she decided to keep the theme concept going in 2014.
The idea of a dream-related season came from the one show she knew she wanted to do, "The Man of La Mancha." George Cordes, who played the title roll in "Sweeney Todd" a few years ago, expressed interest in playing Don Quixote, so Lordi-Kirkham decided to make it happen.
The main song in that play, "To dream the impossible dream," fit in well with Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," the classic play about a man who had big dreams that didn't pan out, which Lordi-Kirkham had been considering for a fall production.
From there, she chose "Harvey," a play about a man and his imaginary friend; "Red," a script about abstract artist Mark Rothko, which will be the season's lesser-known production; and "The Little Prince," this year's family show.
The schedule of the fall classic this year will also be a departure from the usual. It usually opens in the fall and tours area schools through the winter months, but this year it will open at the end of August around Labor Day weekend, then tour through the fall. Lordi-Kirkham said that will let summer residents see the play, and it makes touring easier when there isn't as much snow and ice to deal with on the roads.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.