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A Reunion (and a Show): Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Pendragon Theatre

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Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake

Joe Guzman and Ginger Lee McDermott in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.On Wednesday, July 27, the curtain went up at the Pendragon Theatre on Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a dark play by Christopher Hampton set in 18th Century France and based on the novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Originally produced by England’s Royal Shakespeare Company  in 1985, Les Liaisons eventually made it to Broadway in a production starring Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman, and it has been repeatedly adapted to film, most notably in 1959, 1988 and 1989. The 1988 version, called Dangerous Liaisons, starred John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, and Uma Thurman and was nominated for several Academy Awards.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses reunites former Pendragon players Joe Guzman and Ginger Lee McDermott. Collectively, Guzman and McDermott performed in 45 performances at the Pendragon throughout the 80s and 90s. Susan Neal stars alongside Guzman as the manipulative Marquise de Merteuil; Guzman portrays the conniving Vicomte de Valmont. McDermott shines as the honorable Madame de Tourvel.

Also joining them are Mackenzie Barmen, Harrison Ewing, Binnie Ritchie Holum, Donna Moschek, Tyler Nye, Brandon Patterson, and Laura Jean Schwartau- Swanson.

Les Liaisons is directed by Karen Lordi-Kirkham, who described the play as “a decadent feast for the eyes and senses…. themes of power, revenge, sexual politics and conquest emerge from their high-stakes games of passion and betrayal.”

Guzman, McDermott, and Neal all became interested in acting in different ways. In high school, Guzman had a crush on the lead actress in the drama department, leading him to pursue his interests in the girl (and acting). Ironically, he and the actress stayed in contact over the years, and are now engaged.

McDermott was a dancer in a Florida Ballet Company. When she was 16, her knees could no longer withstand the strain of dancing, so her ballet teacher suggested she try acting.

As a child, Neal would listen to recordings of Peter Pan and “jump around pretending to be Peter Pan.” She recalls that she always chose to portray the star Peter Pan instead of Wendy.

The director Lordi-Kirkham remembers watching the actors at Pendragon as a child, when the theatre was called Blue Mountain Lake. “I leave the acting to the actors though,” she said.

Last year was Pendragon Theatre’s 30-year anniversary celebration, and funny enough, it was at this event that the idea for a production of Les Liaisons came about.

The initial idea to reunite these longtime actors of the Pendragon in a performance Les Liaisons Dangereuses came from McDermott. “It was a dream show for me; I had read the play and knew the movie, so last summer I asked if we could put together the production.” They were granted permission, and the show was born.

Les Liaisons is an acting tour de force; the actors have great dynamics and work well together,” said Lordi-Kirkham.

Now, the actors all have fulfilling careers in acting. Guzman is involved in the Philadelphia theatre scene, while McDermott is working in the acting field in Chicago. Neal is very active in the Pendragon Theatre year round, and Lordi-Kirkham has come to the theatre every summer since 1999.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses will be playing at the Pendragon through August 13th…so don’t miss it. Ticket prices vary. Some rush tickets are available on a daily basis. For further information about tickets, schedules, subscriptions and group rates, patrons may visit the website: www.pendragontheatre.org or call the Pendragon at 518-891-1854.

–Christie Sausa is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=13851

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