You may not think of the Adirondacks as the place to go for theater, but there’s some amazing plays and musicals to be seen in Tri-Lakes area and around the region every summer. Turns out actors like “vacationing” here in the summer just as much as regular folks (though it’s not really a vacation when you work as hard as they do!), and there are plenty of professional actors who venture up from more metropolitan areas to participate in some amazing summer stock theater. There are also some fabulous local actors as well!

Dreaming of Pendragon

Saranac Lake’s Pendragon Theatre, the only professional year-round theater in the Adirondack Park, made a huge change for this year’s summer season. In the three decades or so that the black box theatre has existed, it always ran in repertoire throughout the summer - they would perform one play one night, another one the night after, and a third after that and then return to the first, revolving through the shows throughout the summer. This year, though, the theatre is under new management who decided it would suit the company’s purposes better to do one show at a time.

This year’s theme for Pendragon’s summer season is “Dreams.” Their production of “Red” already closed, but there’s still time to see some other great shows. “Man of La Mancha,” the classic musical about Don Quixote and his fantasy world, just opened July 10 and runs through July 26.

“We opened to a sold out house last night and the word on the street is very positive. Lots of raves about the show,” Executive/Artistic Director Karen Kirkham told me last week. “Audiences seem to really be enjoying the season thus far.”

“Harvey,” Mary Chase’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning 1945 comedy about Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary rabbit friend, is set to run July 31 to Aug. 17. Then comes the classic Arthur Miller show “Death of a Salesman,” about Willy Loman, a salesman with big dreams but no luck. That opens Aug. 28 and runs through Sept. 13.

“The Little Prince,” a family show adapted from the well-known children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is the only show that will be performed throughout season - it opened in May and runs until Aug. 23.

Summer at the Depot

The Depot Theatre in Westport gives you a chance to see a play in a real train depot. (It’s also air-conditioned, so it’ll be good for hot summer nights - you might even want to bring a sweater!) This summer, the Depot is bringing a condensed three-show season that should be light, whimsical and fun.

“It’s a terrific season of fun and laughter at the great quality our audiences have come to expect,” Depot 2012 Volunteer of the Year Karen Lewis, who has guided the season planning process, said in a press release announcing the season.

Running now through July 27 is “My Way: A musical tribute to Frank Sinatra,” which includes 56 Sinatra songs delivered by a four-person cast.

Aug. 1 through 17, the company will examine small-town living in “Greater Tuna.” The fast-paced comedy satirizes small town morals and mores in the fictional Tuna, Texas, the “third-smallest town in the state,” as two actors fly through numerous costume changes as they play about 20 of the town’s memorable citizens.

The musical “Pete ‘n’ Keely” will round out the summer, with shows running Aug. 22 to 31. Pete and Keely were a chart-topping singing duo in the ’50s and ’60s who have since gone through a bitter divorce, but it’s 1968 and they are reuniting in a live television performance to try to save their careers. How’s that for a setup?

Shows run at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays (unless otherwise noted), as well as 3 p.m. Saturdays and 5 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays.

Touring the ADK with ALCA

The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, based in Blue Mountain Lake, strives to bring theater to as many of the small communities of the Adirondacks that it can. This summer it has a few different shows that cast and crew will travel with far and wide.

They already closed a quick weekend of performances of Anton Checkov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” which was held at Big Tupper. This week and next, July 17-24, they’ll be touring a production of the musical version of Disney’s “Tarzan” - Phil Collins tunes and all. That show will go to Long Lake, Newcomb, Lake Placid, Indian Lake, Tupper Lake, Old Forge and Clifton-Fine.

July 26 starts the arts center’s Shakespeare in the Park run, which the group has been doing quite successfully for probably about five years now. This year’s chosen piece by the Bard is “As You Like It,” a love-centered comedy that will be a 180 turn from last year’s “Macbeth.” The show is free, appropriate for all ages and runs through Aug. 5 in various places around the Park: 

  • Saturday, July 26: Subscriber's Only Show at Antlers in Raquette Lake (Rain site: Arts Center)
  • Sunday, July 27: 2 p.m. at Arrowhead Park in Inlet (Rain site: Fern Park)  and 7 p.m. at Long Lake’s Pavilion (Rain site: Long Lake Pavilion)
  • Monday, July 28: 2 p.m. Town of Wanakena and 7 p.m. at Canton’s Village Park
  • Wednesday, July 30: 2 p.m. Raquette Lake and 7 p.m. at the View in Old Forge
  • Thursday, July 31: 7 p.m. at Byron Park in Indian Lake (Rain site: Byron Park Pavilion)  
  • Friday, August 1: 7 p.m. at the Paul Smith’s VIC
  • Saturday, August 2: 2 p.m. at the Newcomb Beach (Newcomb Pavilion) and 7 p.m. at Flanders Park in Tupper Lake (Rain site: Goff Nelson Public Library on Lake Street)
  • Sunday, August 3: Prospect Point 2pm (Rain site: Arts Center) and 7 p.m. at Speculator Park (Rain site: Pavilion)   
  • Monday, August 4: 7 p.m. at the Lake Placid Performing Arts Center (Rain site: LPCA)
  • Tuesday, August 5: 7 p.m. at Henderson Harbor

After that, the arts center will tour yet another show, “Penguin Tango,” written by arts center Artistic Director Stephen Svoboda. Here’s the description from the website: “In this side-splitting, screwball comedy, inspired by actual events at the Bremerhaven, Brooklyn, and Central Park Zoos, a community of penguins is hilariously turned upside down by sex & soggy sardines.” It sounds adorable and interesting. There are only three performances of this one: Aug. 14 at the arts center headquarters in Blue Mountain Lake, Aug. 15 at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, and Aug. 16 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

And one more! “Grease: The movie experience,” will include audience participation, singing and dancing. That production will visit the Indian Lake Theater Aug. 6, Tupper Lake’s State Theater Aug. 7 and Old Forge’s Strand Theater Aug. 8.

Times and prices vary by performance, so check out the arts center’s website for more details.

More Shakespeare

If you’re looking for a group that focuses only on Shakespeare, check out the Adirondack Shakespeare Company based in Schroon Lake.

 Twelfth Night

They will perform the “Kingship Cycle” - Richard II, 1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V - in rotation throughout the month of August. Most of the performances are at the historical amphitheater at the Scaroon Manor, though they will also take it to Chestertown and a few other Schroon Lake locations.

They’ll bring a production of “The Tempest,” a late Shakespearean romance set on an island, to the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake, Chestertown, and the Indian Lake Theater, as well as Scaroon Manor, for a total of five performances spread out from July 25 to Sept. 1.

The one non-Shakespeare they will produce this summer is “David and Goliath,” a children’s play written by the company’s executive director, Patrick Siler. It will be performed in eight different locations including Lake Placid, Glens Falls and Ticonderoga from July 23 to Aug. 27.

Look forward to an autumn season with the company bringing “Macbeth” and “Taming of the Shrew” to various locations throughout the area as well.

Information about tickets, times and locations for each production can be found at the company’s website.

Theater in Essex

This weekend is the last to see the Essex Theatre Company’s production of “Over the River and Through the Woods,” by the same author of the well-known musical “I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.” It’s about a single Italian-American guy whose grandparents are creative in finding ways to keep him from moving away. It runs through July 20 at the Masonic Lodge in Essex.

From Aug. 1 to 9, the company will perform “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a musical review featuring 39 pop standards, including rock and roll and rhythm and blues songs. It holds the record as the longest-running musical revue on Broadway, debuting there in 1995 and running for more than 2,000 performances.

That’s it! Take advantage of the summer and go see a show!

More information about each theater:

  • Pendragon Theatre
15 Brandy Brook Avenue
Saranac Lake, New York 12983

  • Depot Theatre
PO Box 414
Westport, NY 12993

  • Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts
3446 State Route 28
PO Box 205
Blue Mountain Lake, NY 12812
877-752-7715 or 518-352-7715

  • Adirondack Shakespeare Company
Scaroon Manor Campground
8728 Route 9
Pottersville, NY

  • Essex Theatre Company
PO Box 117
Essex, NY 12936