From the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association – Where Every Story Has Three Sides
By Vanessa Ardolino, Wedge Arts Reviewer
As I write this, I am awaiting another Monday morning snow storm to hit. I’m beginning to think winter will never end. I’m thanking my lucky stars I learned Hardcover Theater’s “Pollyanna” currently warming the stage at Bryant Lake Bowl because I need some intensive optimism to turn my frown upside down.
Like most people, I have not revisited the story of this perky young girl since I was young myself. I may have even dismissed Hardcover’s family-friendly adaptation if it were not for the adamant way Director Steve Schroer’s began his press release: “Resistance is futile: You will love this little girl!”
Celebrating its 100th years since publication, the version of “Pollyanna,” audiences will see this month is a fairly faithful rendition – more faithful, apparently, than the 1960 Disney version. However, that was not Schroer’s original plan when he decided to tackle this popular book.
“It all begins with the fact that I’m a terrible person,” he said in an email. “I’m mean and cynical, and if anyone in my vicinity has a pleasant thought, I always try to stomp on it. And so my original intention was to stomp on ‘Pollyanna.’ But when I read the book, my icy heart melted. See, I had assumed that Pollyanna’s optimism was somehow inhuman, that she was like a little machine spitting out upbeat comments no matter what the input. But she’s not. She’s had a tough life. Being optimistic doesn’t come easily to her; she has to work at it.”
While we may have to work at leaving our homes on a cold night to watch the show, it sounds to me that Pollyanna, played by Bethany Simmons, will do most of the heavy lifting. We just need to watch her show the residents of a dispirited town all the reasons they have to be grateful, and that will be enough to change our own attitudes.
Besides, as the press release declares, “what have you got to lose except your cynicism?” After such a cold and snowy winter, I’m willing to give this girl a chance.
“Pollyanna” runs at 7 pm, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, April 4-6 and 11-13. Bryant Lake Bowl is located at 810 Lake Street. For more information visit www.bryantlakebowl.com or call 612.825.8949.