Bringing Broadway-scale theatrical performances to the north country has become a hallmark of Cynthia I. Wilsons time with the Ogdensburg Command Performances, an effort that landed her recent recognition.
OCP presented Mrs. Wilson, of Ogdensburg, the Franky Award for exceptional work on the organizations behalf, including founding the organizations successful YouTheatre program for children.
The presentation was made by OCP Administrator Sally F. Palao at Ogdensburg Free Academy at the groups last performance of the 50th anniversary season.
Its fitting that we end our 50th anniversary season honoring someone who has been with Ogdensburg Command Performances for 27 years, Mrs. Palao said Sunday before introducing Sundays performance of Oh What a Night! a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
The Franky Award is given for extraordinary commitment to OCP. The award is in honor of Frank Schwartz, who founded OCP nearly 30 years ago, back when it was called Ogdensburg Community Players.
Mrs. Wilson has served in numerous roles throughout her 27-year history with group – from vice president and YouTheatre chairwoman to production and marketing chairwoman.
She said she has always had a passion for theater and working behind the scenes.
I love doing shows, particularly live theater, Mrs. Wilson said. In college, I was in charge of making costumes. We had to make them without any kind of designs. Since then, I have never looked back.
A former kindergarten teacher at Sherman Elementary School, Mrs. Wilson joined OCP in 1987.
I wanted to give children opportunities outside of sports – something they could see as a possible career option, she said. Not every child enjoys sports, and I wanted them to see what else is out there.
YouTheatre: Class Acts provides age-appropriate, curriculum-relevant performances for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and is presented at OFA, Massena, Salmon River and Gouverneur central schools. The concept is to bring books to life, Mrs. Wilson said.
When we first started, performances were only for children in Ogdensburg, she said. Now children from all over St. Lawrence County can enjoy it.
She plans to continue with the program for years to come.
There isnt anything else like it in all of New York, she said.
Mrs. Wilson is quick to credit others in the community for making the program a success.
There have been so many people involved with this organization since the beginning, she said. We have over 50 volunteers. Without our volunteers we wouldnt have survived all of these years.