By Maureen Hart
As the Scranton Shakespeare Festival continues its fifth season of free plays for audiences in Northeast Pennsylvania, two Dunmore actors have returned to lend their considerable talents.
Joe McGurl and Camille Reinecke have been favorites during past SSF seasons, and both are excited to be back on the boards.
Camille has been with the Shakespeare Festival from the very beginning, and she says, “It’s been a thrill to watch the festival grow in size each year. In addition to the number of productions, the festival has grown to include company members from all around the world.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to see talented performers, directors, and crew members who look forward to calling Scranton their home during the summer time!”
Joe is returning to SSF for three shows this summer. He notes, “Three shows can be both incredibly daunting and exciting, as they are all rehearsing at one time, so it’s a bit of a challenge trying to juggle them all at once.”
He kicked off the season playing Otto in “A Tale for Winter,” an original script by University of Scranton graduate Anthony Mercado, which is based on Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.”
“I got to provide some comic relief in that play, and it was great fun,” McGurl says. Next, he has two small roles in “Macbeth” before taking on the part of Don John in “Much Ado About Nothing.”
“I usually play comedic roles,” Joe points out, “so I am relishing the opportunity to play the villain in a show and explore that side of a character.”
Camille will be playing the roles of Fleance and a Gentlewoman in “Macbeth,” and notes, “I am extremely excited to work with the talented cast led by our amazing director, Maura Malloy!”
Thus far, Camille’s favorite role with the Shakespeare Festival was Grace in “Pirates of Penzance.”
“Grace was one of General Stanley’s daughters,” Camille explains. “She was heavy-footed, had a uni-brow, and played the Sousaphone for fun. I had a great time exploring comedic moments with this character, especially the ways in which she interacted with other characters on stage.”
Joe’s favorite SSF role thus far was Sir Toby in “Twelfth Night.”
“It was my first real experience having an expanded role in Shakespeare,” he says. “It was amazing getting a chance to use the language and craft it to a story. Sir Toby also has some really great scenes as a foil to Malvolio in that show, and coupled with the great cast we had that year, it was just so much fun to do.”
In the 2015 season, Joe had a role in another original play, “Commedia Rapunzel” by Sam LaFrage, which moved on to the New York Fringe Festival and then an extended run Off-Broadway.
“That was truly a humbling experience,” Joe recalls. “As an actor from NEPA, I think a lot of people just see it as a hobby rather than something you can make a career. So, to be able to take this show that started here in Scranton and have to grow and expand to a full run every weekend in New York City was so gratifying.
“It was a chance for me to take a step back and look at my work and say that I was proud of this and that it is something I can actually do for a living as long as I continue to work as hard as I have.”
Joe particularly enjoyed sharing the experience with Conor McGuigan of Scranton, one of his best friends. “That was just the icing on the cake for me,” Joe points out. “It’s an experience that I will honest never forget.” He’ll share the stage again this summer with McGuigan, who is playing the title role in “Macbeth.”
When Scranton Shakespeare Festival wraps up at the end of July, Joe will be looking ahead to his own original show which will debut with the Scranton Fringe.
“I’m so excited for this year’s Fringe Festival,” he says. “I performed in a show last year and it was great to see so many people come to Scranton for the weekend to see all of this awesome art happening around the city.”
This year, Joe was approached to write a show for the festival, and he wanted to do something original and different, not just one 40-minute play. Thus, he wrote, “Relationship,” which is 40 one-minute plays that show how people deal with the different relationships one encounters in a lifetime.
“It’s got comedy, drama, and of course, a little bit of Shakespeare,” Joe confides.
When she’s not appearing with Scranton Shakespeare Festival, Camille is working as the Arts and Education Outreach Manager at the Scranton Cultural Center.
“I coordinate and execute all of the educational programs for local kids, including field trip opportunities and our performing arts program,” she explains. “I am currently gearing up for our summer camp program where local kids will be performing in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”
While she loves teaching and inspiring local children to love theater, Camille thinks her own favorite theatrical experience was another role with Scranton Shakespeare.
“One of my fondest theater-related memories is performing as a fairy in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream” during year one of the festival at Nay Aug Park,” she remembers. “This production was the first time that I had the opportunity to perform outdoors, and it was thrilling!”
Though it was often “very hot and buggy,” Camille explains, “There is something so charming and romantic about performing outdoors. I loved seeing unsuspecting passersby stop to watch a scene or two during out rehearsals. And it was fun hiding behind trees and bushes as we waited to make our entrances. I particularly loved performing the final scenes of the play just as the sun was setting through the trees.”
Asked to describe his own personal favorite theater experience, Joe reported, “I’ve been doing theater for over 10 years and have had so many incredible experiences. But I think being Off-Broadway and first stepping onto the stage in front of that crowd definitely ranks among my favorite moments.
“However, I have been so lucky to build many long-lasting relationships and friendships and tell a myriad of wonderful stories onstage for audience of all ages, that every time I am cast in a new show, I continually make new memories that I always cherish. That’s the great thing about live theater—it’s always fresh and new!”
In addition to their mutual love of theater and performing, the two actors from Dunmore also agree that the Scranton Shakespeare Festival is a marvelous experience for the audiences.
As Camille points out, “Live theater is a great way to learn about yourself and the world around you! The entire ScrantonShakes company is working hard to bring you some amazing live performances.”
Joe adds, “I think people should come to SSF for various reasons. One, it’s totally free! But, also because we help to bring art and culture to this community, and that’s desperately needed, especially now when the world seems to be in turmoil.
“Art is such a valuable cornerstone of Scranton’s history and to be able to continue the tradition of performance that this great city has built on is incredibly important.”
Camille sums it up saying, “You do not want to miss this!”
NOTE: The Scranton Shakespeare Festival will continue its schedule of performances at the Royal Theatre of the University of Scranton with Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” on July 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., and July 10 at 3 p.m.; followed by performances on the theatre lawn of the Bard’s comedy, “Much Ado About Nothing” on July 15, 16 and 17 at 6 p.m. (bring blankets or lawn chairs).
The season will finish out with a repertory weekend including: “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” on Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 24, at 3 p.m.; and repeats of “A Tale for Winter” on Saturday, July 23, at noon, followed by “Macbeth” at 3 p.m., and a final performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 24 on the lawn.
Tickets are free and may be obtained at the SSF website at www.scrantonshakes.com or at the box office before the performance. Also visit Scranton Shakespeare Festival on Facebook for more information.