ROUSES POINT - If you can't bring Rouses Point to the theatre, bring the theatre to Rouses Point.
The Adirondack Regional Theatre will host a performance of "Once on this Island Jr." this Saturday, July 11, at the Rouses Point Civic Center on Lake Street.
Director and producer Thomas F. Lavin said the performing arts organization has been working on the upcoming production since auditions began in April and the cast of 40 was chosen.
"We had a lot of talent and it was difficult to narrow the cast due to the tremendous amount of young local talent we had to choose from," said Lavin. "I am excited to work with this fantastically gifted cast and creative team of North Country artists."
Once on this Island Jr. is a variation of the original "Once on this Island," written by Lynn Ahrens, who is known for such works as "Seussical, the Musical" and the Tony Award-winning "Ragtime." The labeling of the production as Once on this Island Jr., explained Lavin, is the original production was rewritten for a younger audience and a younger group of performers.
"Traditionally, when Music Theatre International produces a "Jr." version, all the original songs remain and the story line is intact, too," said Lavin. "The change affects the length of the show not the meaning."
Once on this Island Jr. centers on the life of Ti Moune, a peasant girl played by Alicia Rockefeller, who falls in love with Daniel Beauxhomme, a character played by Ian Tavano. The play, explained Lavin, deals with the social issues of prejudice, class division, love and growth. The story takes place in one of the islands of the French Antilles, with the production being filled with Carribean rhythms and ballads.
"It is the kind of story that delivers a message but does it by moving your feet and touching your heart," said Lavin. "Some people may not even look beyond the colors and music and still have a great time."
The Rouses Point production will be made free to the public through funding provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, CVPH Medical Center, the Rouses Point-Champlain Historical Society and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
Having such funding in place, said Lavin, is crucial in bringing theatre to people when they can't always get to the theatre.
"Art - be it dance, music, painting or theatre - should be for everyone," said Lavin. "It should be enjoyed by the masses and if that means it has to travel then it should travel."
While he wants the audience to take home the importance of understanding diversity and appreciating each other's differences, Lavin said he also wants them to realize how talented the performers are from the North Country.
"These young people have given up most of their spring and summer to entertain you," said Lavin. "These are the type of young people who should be written about more often."
Once on this Island Jr. will also be performed at Clinton Community College's Stafford Theatre in Plattsburgh Thursday, July 16, through Saturday, July 18, nightly, beginning at 7 p.m. An additional matinee will be held at 2 p.m. July 18.
The Plattsburgh performance will cost $10 for admission, with tickets available at the customer service booth at Champlain Centre mall, the Continuing Education department at Clinton Community College, and Chase Convenience Stores in Peru and Cumberland Head Corners.
For more information about Once on this Island Jr. and the Adirondack Regional Theatre's final summer production, "Little Shop of Horrors," visit the group's Web site at www.adktheatre.com or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.