Staged reading to celebrate ‘Our Town’ anniversary

LAKE PLACID – The big three in local theater are getting together to hold a staged reading of “Our Town” to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the classic Thorton Wilder play.

The anniversary has sparked a multi-national celebration with productions of the show across the U.S., Canada and Europe, Matt Sorensen told the Enterprise. Sorensen is box office manager for the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, and he’s also involved with productions at Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake and with Community Theatre Players, all three of which are teaming up for “Our Town.”

“Some of us thought that it would be a really cool celebration of just our driving theater community if we did a joint production between the three biggest theater entities in the Tri-Lakes,” Sorensen said.

The three groups often share costumes or set pieces with one another, and there are certainly plenty of people who are involved with all three, but normally all the money is kept separate. With this production, they are taking the rare step of taking the proceeds, after all the production costs are paid, and splitting them evenly between the three groups.

A staged reading is normally a bare-bones production in which actors sit on stage without costumes, set or lighting and read from a script. Everyone involved decided this would be a good idea for “Our Town” when they started planning the production about five months ago, since fall is a busy time for theater people in the area.

But once they got started, they couldn’t keep it to just that, Sorensen said.

“It sort of turned into a full production anyway,” Sorensen said. “We just can’t help ourselves.”

He said the production will include costumes, lighting and set pieces, plus many of the actors have memorized their lines, so they won’t read at all.

“It’s more officially like a staged rehearsal,” Sorensen said. “If we had another week of rehearsals, it would be done.”

“Our Town” in particular is a show that doesn’t take much to go from a staged reading to a full production, since the show is meant to be bare-bones as it is. Wilder specifically sets forth in the play that there only be a few set pieces – a few chairs and tables – and no props.

This production also has a special guest director, James Tolkan. Tolkan, an accomplished stage and screen actor best known for roles in “Top Gun” and “Back to the Future,” is a Lake Placid resident but rarely gets involved in local theater.

Sorensen said he originally asked Tolkan to act in “Our Town.”

“He said, ‘No, but I’d really like to direct,'” Sorensen said. “It’s just really cool to watch him coach actors, and I love the way he works.

“It’s very, very special.”

Performances are set for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15 and seating is general admission. To purchase tickets, call 518-523-2512 or visit

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or