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GLENS FALLS - Renee Leigh Stephenson isn’t an actress, but the artist is looking at Adirondack Theatre Festival’s upcoming season as her big break.

“This ATF job to me is the biggest, most important job,” said Stephenson, a Glens Falls-based freelance illustrator.

Stephenson’s paintings are the focal point of the festival’s promotional campaign. The artist created an original watercolor for each of the season’s shows based on a reading of the script and discussions with Mark Fleischer, producing artistic director, and the team at Trampoline Design.

“What makes me excited about this campaign is its total local focus: a local professional theater working with a local advertising firm and a local artist to promote a summer of theater to our shows – and the brochure is printed on local paper from Finch,” Fleischer said.

The posters and brochures are just part of a bigger effort this year to integrate visual artists from the community into the festival, which opens June 23. The Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council is partnering with ATF for “Tooning In,” an opportunity for local artists to create impromptu artwork inspired by each of the season’s four main stage productions.

Stephenson will be joined by fellow artists Kate Austin-Avon, Christopher Baldwin, Will Fowler, Rhianna Hogan-Cerro, Violet Lemay, Marika McCoola and Zachary Sopczyk during the dress rehearsal of each show at the Charles R. Wood Theater.

“They are free to create whatever they will. The work could be inspired by the actors, the stage crew or the music,” said Jenny Hutchinson, LARAC gallery curator. “They are really going to be on the spot. There’s not a lot of time to marinate ideas.”

The concept is to elevate the artistic status of the doodle.

“We have no expectations. We are not even sure where it is going to go,” Hutchinson said.

The artwork from each session will be on display for the duration of each production and for sale in the reception area of the theater.

Fleischer looks forward to seeing what develops.

“Theater artists have always been fascinated by visual artists. Shows such as ‘Sunday in the Park with George,’ about George Seurat, and ‘Red,’ about Mark Rothko, spring to mind. So to turn the tables this summer seems like a fun idea. We will get to see how visual artists see and interpret theater through their medium,” he said.

For the staff at Trampoline Design, the artistic collaboration for this season’s festival has added another dimension to the company’s commitment to area talent.

“It’s the festival’s 20th anniversary. I can’t think of a better way to show the excitement than to use artwork from someone local. We have wanted to do something like this for a while,” said Sean Magee, Trampoline co-founder.

The company originally connected with the Stephenson through social media.

“I’ve been following her stuff, which I always liked because it was whimsical and colorful,” said Amanda Magee, Trampoline co-founder.

Designer Ashley Hooker enjoyed using Stephenson’s art as a launching point for her designs.

“It was really fun. Her work is organic and full of life,” Hooker said.

Fleischer is hopeful that the visual art component, especially Stephenson’s illustrations, will set the tone for the season.

“They evoke an emotional response without making a complete and definitive statement about the shows,” he said. “When I look at the pieces, I want to know more about the story they convey. Hopefully, the audience does too.”

Adirondack Theatre Festival 2014

Staff report

The Adirondack Theatre Festival celebrates its 20th season this summer.

For tickets and information, go to the Wood box office, call 874-0800 or go online to www.atfestival.org.

The schedule of productions, which will be performed at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls, includes:

“Fully Committed” by Becky Mode

June 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28

Sam Lloyd, who starred in the TV series “Scrubs,” plays all 36 roles in Becky Mode’s machine gun paced, one-man comedy. Sam Peliczowski, a struggling actor employed as an over-worked reservationist at the hottest Manhattan restaurant. As the phone starts ringing with eager diners seeking choice tables, Lloyd expertly jumps into all the other the characters. The comedy premiered at ATF in 1998 before its hit Off-Broadway run and becoming one of the most produced shows in the country.

“Spontaneous Broadway” with the Mop & Bucket Co.

July 1, 2 and 3 7:30 pm; July 2 at 2:00 pm

Broadway impresario, Mick Treadwell, is searching for his next hit musical. But he needs the ATF audience’s help. Suggest the most ridiculous (or sincere) song title you can dream up and Mop Co’s musical improv performers transform your imaginative title into a song. In Act II, the audience’s favorite song expands into a full-blown musical complete with singing, dancing and dialogue.

“The Whale” by Samuel D. Hunter

July 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 at 7:30 pm; July 16 at 2:00 pm

Winner of 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Play, the big-hearted, dramatic and fiercely funny off-Broadway hit play tells the story of a man’s last chance at redemption, and of finding beauty in the most unexpected places. (Show contains adult content.)

New Play Reading of “Lady Liberty and the Donut Girl” by Eric Lane

July 14 and 15

Join ATF for a reading of a brand new comic play about two teenage misfits seeking connection as they stumble into adulthood. The audience is invited to participate in this show’s development at a post-show discussion with the playwright.

“Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash,” created by Richard Maltby Jr. and conceived by William Meade

July 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 and Aug. 1 and 2

A foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ salute to the “Man in Black.” Take a journey through the songs of a beloved American musical poet — Johnny Cash. The show features more than two dozen classic hits, including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue” and “Folsom Prison Blues” all performed by a multi-talented cast of actor/musicians.

ATF’s Cabaret Night features “Noah Zachary: People Watching”

July 28 and 29

ATF audience favorite Noah Zachary returns from New York City for an evening of songs from Broadway and the pop charts. His evening of music is inspired by the candid photos he has taken of people throughout NYC.

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