As the Scranton Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary year this summer, two Dunmoreans have been an integral part of the professional company from the beginning.
Camille Reinecke appeared in Scranton Shakes’ very first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2011, and Joe McGurl joined the ensemble the following year for A Comedy of Errors.
Both are graduates of Dunmore High School and the University of Scranton where they met Michael Bradshaw Flynn, a member of the University Players who went on the found the Shakespeare festival.
Camille Reinecke, who holds a degree in counseling and human services and a minor in theater, is director of the Youth Theater Program at the Scranton Cultural Center.
“I feel like theater and counseling go hand-in-hand,” she explains. “In counseling, you are working to understand people, and in theater you are working from the inside out to build your character.”
Camille appeared in the very first show presented by Scranton Shakespeare Festival in 2011. She played Moth, a fairy, in that show, and will play Francis Flute, a mechanical, in the newest staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She is particular enjoying the experience of working with director Simone Daniels of New York City, who is a Scranton native.
“Simone is incredible to work with,” she explains. “She has a very clear vision of what she wants, but she also allows each actor room to explore their character. It’s a great dynamic.”
Camille still recalls the excitement surrounding that inaugural play which was staged at Nay Aug Park.
“It was a beautiful experience and we felt so committed to serving the community by presenting free professional theater. Revisiting the play this year reminds me very much of that first year,” she continues. “Scranton Shakes remains deeply dedicated to the concept of free theater so that absolutely anybody can attend.”
She has many fond memories of her SSF tenure, which includes comedies, drama, and musicals. “We did a show called The Tavern that was a favorite experience,” she recalls. “I loved that dark, stormy melodrama.”
Her favorite role, however, was as the courtesan in A Comedy of Errors. Her other Shakespearean roles were in Macbeth and Measure for Measure.
“I love being part of a Shakespearean ensemble,” she says. “I know some audiences are afraid it will be too difficult to understand, but our responsibility as a cast is to make each play clear and accessible, and I think SSF does that very well.”
Joe McGurl, who majored in broadcast communications, has found the experience of presenting free theater to the community deeply gratifying.
“It feels like a privilege to be able to give back to the community that has supported me as an artist from my days in high school and college to the present,” Joe explains. “There are people who have seen every show I’ve ever done.
“It is such a gift to be able to present free quality theater to everybody, especially those who cannot afford to go to Broadway or to take their families to a show.”
Through the years, McGurl has played Sir Toby in Twelfth Night; Applegate in Damn Yankees, and Don John in Much Ado About Nothing, among others. This season they are appearing as Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and as the gravedigger/ ensemble in Hamlet.
Joe’s two favorite experiences with SSF thus far have been As You Like It and Richard III, both directed by Emma Went, who they describe as an “actor’s director.”
“Emma provided such a lovely bonding experience during As You Like It, and everyone in the cast felt very connected,” Joe notes. “It was at a point where I really needed that.”
Joe portrayed Lord Rivers and Brackenberry in Richard III, which received a great audience reception as the only history play presented thus far by Scranton Shakes.
“The audience really connected with the history and weight of Richard III,” McGurl recalls.
A playwright, Joe’s original play, Relationships, was presented a few years ago at the Scranton Fringe Festival, and received the Best Local Author Award from Electric City.
McGurl has also appeared Off-Broadway in two shows that began their run at the Scranton festival—Two Gentlemen of Verona and Commedia Rapunzel.
Joe very much admires his friend from college, Michael Bradshaw Flynn, founder of SSF, and says the two support each other. Looking forward to this hallmark season, Joe says, “I’m glad he’s brought me along for the ride.”
“It’s been a hard year, but theater is coming back!” Joe promises.