An important play to Pendragon

SARANAC LAKE – “A Streetcar Named Desire” is an important play to the Pendragon Theatre community.

It was the very first production put on by the theater when it was in its infancy 33 years ago. According to Pendragon’s website, the theater mounted only that production in 1980, with three performances and a budget below $500.

Karen Lordi-Kirkham, the theater’s new executive and artistic director who also directed “Streetcar,” said she chose to put on the show because she saw it as a way to honor Pendragon co-founders Bob Pettee and Susan Neal and their vision for the organization.

This is the first season Pettee and Neal aren’t around, having moved to Maine after turning over the reins of the operation to Lordi-Kirkham and new Managing Director David Zwierankin. The summer of 2012 was a transitional season with Lordi-Kirkham and Zwierankin working alongside Pettee and Neal to learn the ropes.

That time, plus the experience the new leadership team had with the theater previously, has helped make the transition easier.

“I think things have been running pretty smoothly,” Lordi-Kirkham told the Enterprise before Thursday evening’s performance. “None of us are really coming in cold, and I think that’s made it much easier.”

Lordi-Kirkham said her biggest challenge has been learning all the new roles that come with her position, including publicity, fundraising, grant writing and planning programming. She has the ambitious goal of being able to announce next year’s season by the end of September, though she laughs nervously about having the time to do it.

She has a few things in place, at least. Next year’s theme will be “Dreams,” and one of the productions will be “Man of La Mancha,” starring Tupper Lake opera singer George Cordes and his wife, Tupper Lake music teacher Liz Cordes, doing the music.

This summer season was built around “Streetcar,” with a theme of “Saints and Sinners.”

Lordi-Kirkham said putting on “Streetcar” was symbolic of the transition to the next step in Pendragon’s history.

“At the same time, I think we want to preserve what makes Pendragon Pendragon for all of us,” Lordi-Kirkham said.

And besides that, it’s a great, well-known play that emphasizes a strong ensemble cast, Lordi-Kirkham said.