SARANAC LAKE - Secrecy is paramount when it comes to the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Rotary Show, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 at the Harrietstown Town Hall.
Not the event itself, but the Rotary Show Dancers, an 82-year tradition. The dancers are typically a gaggle of men in drag - cushions in bras, wigs, dresses and lipstick - dancing to musical numbers designed to complement the Carnival theme. This year, it's "Medieval Times."
So, will there be knights and princesses and gallantry at the Rotary Show? And how many of the Rotary Show Dancers will be damsels in distress? Only the dancers know, and they're sworn to secrecy.
"We don't even know," said Margo Nagle, member of the Saranac Lake Rotary Club and chair of the one-person Program Committee, in charge of signing up the entertainment. They don't tell her anything about the dance routine, and the practice sessions are held behind closed doors.
Rotarian Bill Plumb is the chair of the Rotary Show Dancers committee, and he's not talking. Multiple phone messages have been left unanswered.
But Nagle did reveal the lineup for the Rotary Show. And look there! The Rotary Show Dancers are listed at the bottom of the program. The public will have to wait even longer to see what these men have in store for their entertainment.
"I'm really excited about this year's Rotary Show," said Mary Brown, Rotary Show co-chair. "We expect another sellout, we've got a great lineup of acts, and it's going to be a lot of fun for everybody."
The Rotary Show venue is the historic Harrietstown Town Hall, built in 1927, featuring an expansive wooden floor, which will be lined with packed seats, balcony seating to the back and the two sides of the hall on the second floor, and a full stage. Colorful Winter Carnival banners from years past will be hung from the balconies, and decorations will provide a festive backdrop on stage.
The Coronation Ceremony on Feb. 4, the Rotary Show, and the Gala Parade on Feb. 12 are the largest spectacles of Winter Carnival. The Rotary Show is filled with music, stories, comedy and tradition. The community of Saranac Lake will be there in full force, the Carnival royalty in the front row, the families, village leaders and businessmen, all the movers and shakers and hundreds of neighbors. This is small-town America at its best.
Scott Eichoholz - a "knight" on the town - will provide pre-show entertainment from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Mary Brown will welcome the audience. Rotary Club President John Banta will give the introduction. And the master of ceremonies - Father Rick Dennis - will present the 2011 Winter Carnival court and royalty.
The Winter Carnival royal party includes the king and queen (to be announced the evening of Feb. 4 at Coronation), attendants to the king and queen (Eliza Lennon and Adam Heverly), grand marshal (Cathy Moore), archbishop (Sara Posdzich), chamberlain (Joe Thill), princess (Courtney Ellen Petkovek), prince (William Jeremiah Ward IV), pages (Jacob Adams, Isabelle Celeste, Rachel Daby, Jake Mouraine, Dylan Murnane and Emma Peer), and the High School Court ladies (Gaby Feliu, Faith Conners, Julie Bowler, Cadence Roddy, Ryan Garnish, Geanette Orton and Molly Burgess) and gentlemen (Sean Ryan, Braxton Tissot, Sam Baker, Dalton DeMarco, Dylan Dawson, Wyatt Daviau, and Nicholas Magro).
Steve Borst, the Musician to the Royal Court, will provide entertainment, and there will be dance routines by the pages and court members. This will be followed by performances by the Saranac Lake High School Vocal Ensembles, directed by Helen Demong and accompanied by Tom Delahant. Afterward, there will be acts by Steven Gratto ("Comedy Juggler Extraordinaire"), pianist Joey Izzo, Adirondack singer/songwriter Roy Hurd, storyteller Doug Fitzgerald with "Tales of the North Country," and finally, the Rotary Show Dancers.
The Rotary Club relies heavily on the Program Committee chair to make sure the Winter Carnival Rotary Show is fresh to keep people coming back year after year. The Dancers and their new routines help with that as well.
"I think they're real vital to the show," Brown said, adding that Nagle deserves a lot of the credit. "She's the kind of program chair that makes my life easy."
The Winter Carnival Rotary Show is a major fundraiser for the Saranac Lake Rotary Club, which gives back to the community through scholarships and to help projects such as the local skateboard park, Lift Mount Pisgah and the Adirondack Carousel.
Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door and can be purchased at the following locations: Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Borealis Color, Blue Line Sport Shop, Community Bank, Adirondack Bank, HSBC, NBT Bank, Eco Living, Dr. Neil Miller's office, Post Office Pharmacy and the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact Mary Brown at 891-2709.