CHAZY - When Frank W. Langr and his wife, Kathie, hosted their first production of the Broadway musical "Annie," neither imagined how far the grassroots theatre group would go.
Twenty years later, Chazy Music Theatre continues to take the stage at Chazy Central Rural School each year, entertaining audiences that span generations.
"It's amazing how far we've come. When we started, I would call up people I knew and say, 'Hey, would you like a part in the play this year,'" recalled Langr. "They didn't even have to audition. We auditioned the children and the students, but the adults just sort of got invited and it grew from there."
Langr grew up in Westchester County, just north of New York City. It was there that he found his love for musical theatre as a teenager, he said. Over the years, his theatrical passion only grew, and upon taking his position as Chazy Central's instrumental music teacher more than 20 years ago, he decided to share his passion with the community.
The process has brought together students from neighboring school districts, and even helped bridge the generation gap by becoming more of a group the focuses more on including general members of the community.
"I've been a real believer that one of the really important things we've done is bring multiple generations together on one project," said Langr. "It's really significant when you have a 7-year-old and a 75-year-old working on the same project, that's unique. That kind of stuff doesn't happen very often."
While the productions have changed over the years, starting with "Annie" and including other hits such as "The Wizard of Oz" and "Children of Eden," one thing has remained constant - reaching audiences with stories involving life lessons and social themes, said Gilles Fortin, director of this year's production, Disney's "Beauty and the Beast."