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Pendragon and BluSeed are thrilled to announce a new collaboration as the organizations were recently awarded $75,000 in matching support from the National Endowment for the Arts to create a new Artist Residency program in Saranac Lake.

Six North Country artists and six national artists have been selected to create public work in Saranac Lake that speaks to issues and life in the community. 

Click on an image to learn more about each artist, and their project!

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Jazen Reuss

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Brittany Sternberg

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Glen McClure

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Karen Lewis

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Richard Kegler

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Booke Armstrong

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Chanthou Lam

Updates

North Country Native Takes Musical Aim at a Classic Robert Louis Stevenson Farce

 

Sam Balzac’s Musical Adaptation of “The Wrong Box” to Premiere Saturday Evening, December 9, at the Saranac Lake Free Library

 

SARANAC LAKE, NY—A visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage and Museum in Saranac Lake became the impetus for the creation of a new musical-theater piece premiering Saturday, December 9th, at the Saranac Lake Free Library.

 

Full of intrigue, mistaken identities, humor and heart, this musical reinterpretation of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novella, The Wrong Box—co-authored with his stepson, Lloyd Osbourne—blends contemporary sensibilities with Victorian-era tomfoolery to create a hilarious piece of theater sure to entertain North Country audiences.

 

New York City-based theater artist Sam Balzac, who was born and raised in the Adirondack North Country, had been thinking about adapting a work of Stevenson’s for some time given the famed author’s connection to the area. On his first visit to the Saranac Lake museum, he learned that Stevenson wrote part of The Wrong Box during his months’-long stay at the cottage.

 

Balzac then watched a film adaptation of the novella made in the 1960s and starring Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Mills, and a very young Michael Caine. He found it to be in sync with his own sense of humor and sought out the novella by Stevenson and Osbourne.

 

“I liked the madcap energy of the movie, but in many ways, the book was even wilder,” Balzac said. “My adaptation is much closer to the book, but I was inspired by the way the film embellishes the story to try my hand at messing with the plot points and characters to put my own stamp on it.”

 

The premiere presentation of The Wrong Box will be performed in the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Cantwell Room, 109 Main Street, on Saturday, December 9th, at 7 pm. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged—by email via thewrongboxmusical@gmail.com or by phone at 518-487-0041. Audiences will also have the opportunity to provide their own feedback on the work-in-progress in the style of a professional musical theatre workshop.

 

The concert will feature a mix of NYC and local professional performers, including Jason Brill, Laura Cetti, Jen Chia, Linnae D’Auria, Hannah Eakin, Molly Heller, Bill McColgan, Brenda McColgan, Tyler Nye, and Mukta Phatak. Fernanda Douglas is handling the musical direction, with Courtney Knysch serving as stage manager.

 

Surprise Awards

When the composer-lyricist learned in 2022 of a major grant opportunity, the FY 2023 Support for Artists grant, funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), he hit on the idea of using his concept for The Wrong Box as the intended project and applied via the sponsorship of the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts (ALCA) in Blue Mountain Lake.

 

“I never dreamed I would be awarded the grant the first time out and envisioned The Wrong Box as a longer-term project that I could put on the back burner and work on in the future,” Balzac said.

 

When he received word in late 2022 from ALCA that NYSCA had awarded him the $10,000 grant, Balzac was flabbergasted—then immediately began to develop a plan for creating a complete draft of the musical by the end of 2023, which was a requirement of the funding award.

 

In addition to the support Balzac received from NYSCA’s Support for Artists grant to create the musical, he is also a beneficiary of the Blu/Pen Artist Residency, a grant-program collaboration between Saranac Lake’s BluSeed Studios and Pendragon Theatre, that has opened up rehearsal space and facilitated housing for four out-of-town actors and a music director.

 

A Well-Founded Farce

Given that The Wrong Box is a flat-out farce, it’s no surprise that the storyline is convoluted and even frenetic. Balzac synopsizes the plot as follows:

 

What’s the matter with Morris? On the one hand, he’s swimming in debt, saddled with a dimwitted brother, a useless adopted sister and a befuddled uncle; on the other hand, he stands to inherit a sizable fortune—should his doddering Uncle Joseph outlive the competition. The only people who stand in Morris’s way? Uncle Masterman, the other surviving competitor, and his unpredictable son, Michael.

 

Events take a turn for the worse when Joseph appears to drop dead in an unfortunate railway accident. Can Morris successfully thwart the astute Michael by keeping up the charade that Uncle Joseph is alive? Can he recover his uncle’s corpse when an unthinkable label mishap sends him the wrong box in the mail? And what of the bungling Scotland Yard detectives who show up at Morris’s doorstep accusing him of a murder he did not commit?

 

The concert is also supported by a number of community donors who have aided Balzac in financing the reading. For other community members who would like to contribute, the production’s Indiegogo campaign can be found at: https://igg.me/at/wrong-box/x/22898033#/.

 

This project is made possible with funds from a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Support for Artists grant with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts.

 

Media coverage:

• Sam Balzac interview by Todd Moe on NCPR’s “Northern Light”:

 

https://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/48873/20231129/saranac-lake-library-hosts-premiere-of-the-wrong-box

 

• Lead article on the front page of the Nov. 25, 2023 edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on a new artist residency program by BluSeed Studios and Pendragon Theatre, which includes the 12/9/23 presentation of The Wrong Box:

 

https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2023/11/now-comes-the-fun-part/

What is the Blu/Pen Artist Residency Program? 

The Program intends to create, cultivate and launch the first year of an Artist-in-Residence program for twelve artists.

 

6 North Country artists and 6 national artists will be selected to create public work in Saranac Lake, free to the community, that speaks to issues and life in the Adirondacks. This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” Program. The first year of the program is July 2023 thru June 2024. 


 

Who is Eligible? 

To apply as a Local Artist, you must live full-time in the North Country region of New York state. “Full time” means you are in the area for a minimum eight months of the year and an Identification address demonstrates an address in the North Country. The North Country Region includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

 

The Selection Process

Local Artists in Residence are selected by our panel, which is a revolving group of distinguished artists in each artistic discipline or area of focus. 

 

The sole criterion for acceptance is artistic excellence, which Pendragon and BluSeed define in a pluralistic and inclusive way. Pendragon and BluSeed encourage applications from artists representing the widest possible range of perspectives and demographics, and welcomes artists engaging in the broadest spectrum of artistic practice and investigating an unlimited array of inquiries and concerns. To that end, emerging as well as established artists are invited to apply.

 

Pendragon and BluSeed are committed to diversity and inclusion, and a more equitable arts and cultural sector. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive health decisions, or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, genetic information, political views or activity, or other applicable legally protected characteristics.

 

For more information please visit our websites: 

www.bluseedstudios.org 

www.pendragontheatre.org

 

Or 

 

Email:

Mike Aguirre at managingdirector@pendragontheatre.org

Marissa Hernandez at admin@bluseedstudios.org 

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