FULTON – With the return of the family summer musical, CNY Arts Center is delivering a story of joy and gladness with the premiere of Pollyanna, set to open August 5 for a two-week run onstage at 11 River Glen Drive on the Cayuga College Fulton campus.
“With our nation in turmoil this summer, nothing is certain except perhaps more chaos,” said Nancy Fox, director. “It is especially important to look for what is good around us and focus on what we can be glad about. The story of Pollyanna, an orphan girl with little to be happy about, shares her technique for finding the good even in bad situations and changes an entire town in the process. She calls it the Glad Game.”
The production, which has never been done locally, will take the audience back to Fulton in 1909 when the city was enjoying prosperity and success.
Paintings have been commissioned to reflect familiar locales and scenes taken from actual historical photos and postcards.
Local artist, Cayuga College art student Melinda Lamb, is creating paintings of the Pratt House, the city library, a former church, and other scenes around town.
The paintings will hang on the set as backdrop and be available for purchase after the play.
“I wanted to make the production as personal as possible by having the set exhibit actual locations,” Fox said. “And even though popular culture often uses the word ‘Pollyanna’ to describe someone in denial of reality, the original story by Eleanor Porter delivers just the opposite with a powerful message about facing reality. Finding the good in everyday situations, no matter the circumstances or how hard, is the challenge. Even if you have to work really hard to find the good, we forget about the bad while we’re looking for the good.”
It’s an important lesson for the young cast ranging from ages 11 to 18 with only three adults to round out the character list. Each rehearsal begins by sharing something to be glad about or something they are struggling with.
The other cast members brainstorm reasons to be glad about each situation and bonds of friendship are strengthened in the process:
“I have to say we have a pretty happy group of kids and they fill the arts center with joy and laugher at each rehearsal. I see the friendships and mutual support they give each other running lines and practicing. It is the message of the arts bringing people together and having a positive impact on all those involved. My own level of happiness rises each time I am with them. I’m truly glad to have this opportunity to share their joy with the community.
“I really love to hear people talk about all there is to be glad about in town. Negative talk is harmful and sets us back. We didn’t get the $10 million grant for revitalization but we saw a lot of great people and ideas come together and we have a plan to keep moving forward. The Nestle buildings reminded us of a painful memory for more than 10 years but the changing landscape as they come down is a breath of fresh air that finally brings closure, allowing us to move forward.
“We not only have a great online presence with local social media sites, we still have our own personal newspaper giving us a source of local news, critical as a means of communication. We are home to the largest nonprofit organization, Oswego County Opportunities, helping to take care of us for 50 years. Our Community Development Agency works tirelessly to help people get decent homes and neighborhoods to live in.
“There is so much to celebrate and be glad about as we keep working toward a better future. The Arts are a part of the vitality of a community and the Arts Center will do our part to offer experiences reflecting the beauty of our community and the special people who live here. I invite you to buy in to that philosophy. Come see Pollyanna’s story played out onstage with these young people giving you their best interpretation of her Glad Game. Forget about the bad for a couple hours.”
Pollyanna opens August 5 at 8 p.m. and continues August 6, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. with matinees August 7 and 14 at 3 p.m.
The production is also part of the Fulton Festival of the Arts taking place during the second weekend, August 12-14.
For more information, tickets or reservations, visit www.CNYArtsCenter.com or call 315-598-ARTS (2787).