In 1961 Joan Frank bought the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street and used it as a summer theater until 1963, when she moved her troupe to Lake Placid; she was managing director of the Lake Placid Center for Music Drama and Art from its founding; it subsequently became the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.  She then started the Community Theater Players.  She also started a roller skating rink in the site of the Saranac Lake Dress Factory.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 8, 1976

Joan Frank, Tri-Lakes Pied Piper of the arts


LAKE PLACID — "Before the first time I came up to Saranac Lake in 1961 I thought the earth was flat," Joan Frank, managing director of the Lake Placid Center for Music, Drama and Art, said.

But she did not fall off the earth, which she found to be bordered by the Adirondack's and as explorers before her, she established an empire — in this case a cultural oasis.

A native of Amityville, Long Island, Ms. Frank first performed in the North Country in 1960 in summer stock in Schroon Lake. She worked as a singer, actress, comedienne and nightclub performer before taking the reigns offstage as a producer.

Surprise Responsibilities

The first theatrical enterprise Ms. Frank undertook was the Saranac Lake summer theater next to the Hotel Saranac which she bought in 1961 with Marta Byer and Kenny Prohaska. Prohaska, a building contractor who has since died, was the silent partner; Marta Byer was supposed to be the business manager; and Joan Frank was supposed to act and produce the shows.

While Prohaska kept up his end of the financial arrangement it became obvious, and she admitted, that Ms. Byer had no expertise whatsoever for business details and the entire burden of running the theater fell on the shoulders of Joan Frank. After a weekend crash-course in management from the former owner of the theater, Ms. Frank took over the business end of the partnership and ran everything for three years virtually by herself.

Besides being unable to cope with the business, Ms. Byer apparently had a problem in recognizing talent. One night Ms. Frank was approached by a young waitress in a restaurant in Saranac Lake who asked for "any kind of work — even a walk-on part in a play." While Joan Frank was willing to give the young woman a chance Ms. Byer said she would "not have a waitress on stage."

"That's how we missed discovering Faye Dunaway," Ms. Frank said.

Prohaska's health and Ms. Frank's and Ms. Byer's relationship deteriorated and the partnership finally dissolved in 1963. The Saranac Lake theater closed and Joan Frank and Kenny Prohaska moved their base of operation to Lake Placid to a building now called the Signal Hill Theater, at that time used only for Tuesday night chamber music concerts produced by Mrs. W. Alton Jones, the landlady.

The building had only one electric socket but Ms. Frank started renovations with only $80 in her pocket and optimistic enthusiasm. [The remainder of the article is illegible.]

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 24, 1981

Joan Frank's great contribution

It appears that there is a healthy resurgence of interest in performing arts in the area, with much of the action centered in Saranac Lake.

There have been super performances of dramatic plays such as "A Street Car Named Desire" and musicals such as "Oliver" arid "Gypsy."

In addition there have been the Enterplay productions from the group based in Long Lake and offshoots of that effort which resulted in the wonderful "Evening of Ballet" featured in the area last week.

All of which goes to show that there is really a great deal to do in this area respecting the arts.

In addition, the flowering of late demonstrates that bricks and mortar alone do not a theater make. Theater is people and commitment, talent and hard work.

The person in this area with the most of these qualities is Joan Frank, who started her own summer theater here in Saranac Lake decades ago, then moved it to Lake Placid.

Now she is back in Saranac Lake and has started The Town Hall Players which has been doing a great job of staging interesting and challenging productions.

Joan Frank's total commitment to bringing theater to this remote area is an inspiration because it shows what can be done by dint of sheer force of personality and willingness to work hard.

The Harrietstown Town Hall is hardly ideal as a theater.

The seats are hard, the acoustics leave a lot to be desired, and there is so much seating that even the most well-attended performance looks a little sparse.

But there is a verve and considerable nerve in Joan Frank and she has done more for theater and the arts in this area, and especially in Saranac Lake, than any other person.

We don't know what she has in mind for the future but if the past is any reflection we hope that we can look forward to more and more local theater. Joan has shown that the more there is the more there will be, and she has proven that the locus of theatric arts can reside in a small village which is without pretension to grandeur.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, November 9, 1982

Players to stage musical 'Mame'

SARANAC LAKE - Joan Frank, a producer for many Town Hall Players' stage plays here has turned over that role to someone else and will- instead star in the newest Players production due to premiere this coming weekend.

Frank will take the lead role in the musical "Mame" when it is staged at the Harrietstown Town Hall Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12, 13 and 14. Showtime will be 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday. The production will be cosponsored by the Players and the Women's Civic Chamber.

Its producer will be C.R. Touby.

The cast also includes Chris Lampart, Lindsay McNab, Donna Madore, Barbara Touby, Clarice Muldoon, Vera Charles, Roy Fuhrmeister, Kelly Haig and Andy Willette. In supporting roles are, Joe and Beryl Szwed, Dick Schultz, Roy Kristoffersen, Lori Mace, Tammy McGowan, Paul Mader, Jessica Deeb, Mike Finegan, Leslie NcNab and Tanya Fuhrmeister.

The chorus will include a number of high school students. Tickets are $4 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens. They are available at the door or from the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, January 14, 1983

Good news for roller skaters:

Doors Still Open at Fun Factory


SARANAC LAKE - Fun Factory, Inc. owner Joan Frank has said the recent sale of her roller skating rink has been misinterpreted by many toN mean no more roller skating at the site. She wants her customers to know she is still in business.

Frank explained that the property of the Fun Factory roller skating rink had been sold, as was reported, but that many of her customers thought the actual business had been sold. .

Nettie Marie Jones did buy the property and the building, "but I own the business," Frank said. She said she leases, the building from Jones to carry on her business.

"I would never have made the deal if I couldn't have leased it back," she said.

Many of her customers interpreted news of the sale to mean the rink would not be open again.

"Someone even came in and asked for a job running the rink for Mrs. Jones," Frank said.

Frank said business has still been held afloat with the same regular skaters." She said she has offered specials, but cannot seem to attract new participants.

The rink, she said, is plagued with rumors of drug use. She said she had four incidents of marijuana use in the first month she was open. All were taken care of by Frank or the local police, and she said after the last one she made an announcement telling the skaters she would not tolerate it.

"I've never had one more problem with it since," she said, after being open almost six years.

Frank has a Christian Skating Night on Mondays, and is also open Wednesday evening, Friday evening, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Friday night, she said, is the night when the skaters really have fun and let out the frustrations of the week. "You're looking at enough energy to light up this town if you could bottle it," Frank said of her Friday night skaters.

Many parents, she said, probably think its unruly on a night like this. However, Frank said that's because they don't stay long enough to see just what the children are doing — releasing energy.

"They're just having fun," she said. "I would not run a bad place for kids."

There are 11 skate guards who work at the Fun Factory and help Frank monitor the roller skaters. Roller skaters aren't the only people in the area familiar with Frank.

She is well-known as a director with the Town Hall Players and its Half- Pint Players for very young actors. She is also a former director of the Center for Music, Drama, and Art in Lake Placid.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 28, 1983

Joan Frank moves to Florida

SARANAC LAKE - Joan Frank, the woman whose name became well-known in theatrical productions in this area and also the former operator of a roller skating rink here has moved to Florida,

She owned and operated the Fun Factory roller rink on Van Buren Street before selling the building back to its original owner, Nettie Marie Jones of Lake Placid.

Frank, the former director of the Center for Music, Drama, and Art in Lake Placid, was president of the Town Hall Players in Saranac Lake. At a September election, the board chose C. R. Touby, choir director of the Presbyterian Church and caretaker of Land's End, to replace her.

Frank was also involved with the Half-Pint Players, a children's acting group. Margaret Haig said she will be directing the group's next performance, an encore showing of "'Guys and Dolls" just prior to Thanksgiving.

Haig said that others involved with the program will take turns directing, "depending on the show and who wants to tackle it," as has been done in the past.

Frank directed the group's last two performances.