New Season, New Leaders for Dunmore High School Drama Club

Crimson Company Show PosterBy Emily Gerchman

The Dunmore High School Crimson Company will present the world premiere of “The Great Cell Phone Catastrophe,” an original play written by Michael Pavese, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 21 at the Dunmore High School Auditorium. Additional shows will take place on Friday, November 22, and Saturday, November 23.

This show marks not just a new season for these student actors and crew members, but a new era for the club as well.

This production is the very first directed by Celine Carlier and Dana Jackson. The two are filling the shoes of Brian and Dawn McGurl, who took their final bow last spring after leading the club for just shy of 15 years.

Carlier is an eighth grade English teacher in the Dunmore School District. Born and raised in Rhode Island, she is a 2015 graduate of Marywood University.

“I like Dunmore. I did my student teaching here. Then I observed here. Then I got hired,” said Carlier. “The school’s great. I’m happy that I was lucky enough to get in here.”

Over the years, Carlier has done work with community theatre groups, including Actor’s Circle ⁠— some on stage, some behind the scenes. Her peers knew that. So when word got out that the Crimson Company needed a new leader, more than a few people suggested Carlier for the job.

Crimson Company Photo

Shown from left: Dana Jackson and Celine Carlier

“I’ve done…some stage management. Never in this capacity where it’s all us,” Carlier said. “It’s definitely new, but it’s a fun challenge.”

Luckily, it’s a challenge she doesn’t have to face alone.

Working alongside Carlier is Dana Jackson ⁠— the Crimson Company’s new assistant director. Jackson is a 2014 graduate of Dunmore High School and a proud Crimson Company alum.  She went on to study theatre at Marywood University.

“It’s really valuable to have someone like that. Being an alum of both the school and the program, she knows how it was. And she knows what it’s like also to direct,” Carlier said.

“It’s a little strange, “Jackson admitted, “but it’s still Dunmore. They’re sitting there doing their homework just like I used to, complaining about the same stuff I used to complain about. A lot of it is the same, a lot is different. Some it’s the same just through a different lens.”

“I hope we can continue the tradition of excellence that the Dunmore Crimson Company traditionally has had,” Jackson said, “but I think having fresh eyes is a good thing, and a fresh perspective.”

 “I think if they feel comfortable and feel like this is like another home where they can come laugh with their friends and work hard, that’s what I’m hoping for,” Carlier chimed in.

Leading the Crimson Company is a huge undertaking, both Carlier and Jackson can agree on that. But they have quite a team in their corner, ready and eager to help make this transition as smooth as possible.

“Everyone’s been really helpful, from parents to other teachers to the kids. I can’t really ask for much more just starting out,” said Carlier. “Even Brian and Dawn have helped too, if I need something. I couldn’t lock the door the one day so I called him. It’s really nice to know that’s there ⁠— that resource.”

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to last 15 years maybe. We’ll see.”

Dunmoreans of the Month: Brian and Dawn McGurl

Dunmoreans of the Month - CREDIT RICH BANICK

© Rich Banick Photography

By Emily Fedor

It’s show time once again for members of the Dunmore High School Crimson Company. In the coming days, the cast and crew will present the final showings of their spring production “Beehive: The 60’s Musical.”

On Saturday, the curtain will fall for one last time marking the end of not just another successful show and season for this drama club, but also the end of an era.

Brian and Dawn McGurl took over as drama club directors all the way back in 2005.

“Beehive” will be the 32nd show produced under their leadership, and it will be their last.

“We were back and forth with it, but it’s time,” Dawn said.

“When I started I was 45 years old. I’m 60 now,” Brian said with a chuckle. “Climbing up ten foot ladders and climbing on the catwalk, that’s not as much fun as it used to be.”

“And lugging costumes,” Dawn chimed in. “It’s a lot of work.”

The choice to step back from the drama club was sparked by another big decision.

Brian has taught seventh grade geography at the Dunmore Middle School for more than 30 years. He has decided to retire at the end of this school year.

The district would have allowed the McGurls to stay on with the Crimson Company, but Brian said he believes the club should be led by a teacher.

“The part of this that is the best part is that you’re extending the classroom,” he said.

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© Rich Banick Photography

Brian and Dawn will look back on these years fondly, saying they’ve left everything they have to offer on the auditorium stage.

Over the last 14 years, the two have brought upon several big changes that have transformed this program into quite a showstopper.

When the McGurls first took over, the club only put on one play a year for only one week.

Now, each Crimson Company season features a straight play in the fall and a musical in the spring, and each production spans two weekends. Another big change to the schedule is the newly added Sunday matinee.

Brian and Dawn also helped secure funding to purchase new curtains, a new sound system, microphones and more. Their most recent project involved building a new sound booth in the back of the auditorium a major game changer for the club’s crew members.

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© Rich Banick Photography

“This is a sports town, but in the time that we’ve been here, we’ve made great strides in pushing the arts to the fore and making it as important as sports,” Dawn said. “I think that’s one of the things we’re most proud of.”

While they are excited to spend more time with family and friends and enjoying other aspects of life, Brian and Dawn say they will miss their days in the auditorium and people they shared those days with the people who have become like a second family to them.

“One of the great parts of this is the friendships we develop,” Brian said with a smile. “As our students get older, we have all these friends now.”

“I’m going to miss seeing that freshman come out, and just seeing the growth by the time they’re a senior. It’s so rewarding,” Dawn said. “The impact that this can have on a person’s life is just awesome.”

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© Rich Banick Photography

Of course, as one chapter comes to an end, another must begin.

During the next school year, the Crimson Company is set to present two shows — an original work in the fall and the Charles M. Schulz inspired musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in the spring.

As far as who will fill the McGurls’ shoes, someone has expressed interest in taking charge of the Crimson Company.

But as far as who that someone is, the Dunmorean is sworn to secrecy until the school board gives its final approval.

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“Beehive: The 60’s Musical” continues this week with performances on April 3, 4, 5 and 6 at 7:00 p.m. each evening inside the DHS Auditorium. Tickets will be $10 for adults; $8 for students/seniors, and $5 for children under five.

DHS Crimson Company Presents “BEEHIVE: The 60’s Musical”

Crimson Co Cast Crew

Cast and crew of the Dunmore High School Crimson Company will present “BEEHIVE: The 60’s Musical” in the coming weeks. Opening night performance is set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 28.

The 1960’s come alive on stage as the Dunmore High School Crimson Company Drama Club presents “BEEHIVE: The 60’s Musical.”

Performances will be on March 28, 29, and 30, as well as April 3, 4 5 and 6. The curtain will rise at 7:00 each evening at the Dunmore High School Auditorium. The cast and crew will also take the stage for a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 31.

Tickets will be $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, and $5 for children under five.

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“BEEHIVE” will be the final production for senior members of the Crimson Company. Front row: Colby Desando, Julia Pasko, Marchete Pendon and Arianna Costanzi. Second row: Sophia Norvillas, Jenna Fury, Julia Ingargiola, Emily Stedina and Julia Klotz. Back row: Lydia Meade, Max Burke, Tabitha Stout and Patrick Burke.

An exuberant jukebox celebration of the music that made the 60’s truly memorable, BEEHIVE transports audiences on a nostalgic musical journey back to the days of miniskirts, transistor radios, Shindigs and flower power.

This groovy retro-revue highlights hits that range from the early sixties girl groups, to the Supremes’ memorable melodies and Aretha Franklin’s soul, to the screams of the British Invasion and Woodstock rock.

BEEHIVE looks back on the issues that the nation faces during those turbulent times civil rights, Vietnam, assassinations, the women’s movement, the generation gap all accomplished through some of the most celebrated and memorable songs of the era.

Grab your go-go boots, tease up that hair and come feel the peace, love and music!

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This Crimson Company musical is the last one under the direction of Brian and Dawn McGurl. They have spearheaded the high school drama club program since 2005.

Brian McGurl is a longtime and well loved 8th grade geography teacher. He plans to retire as both an educator and Crimson Company director at the end of this school year.

To Brian, Dawn and the entire cast and crew of “BEEHIVE”: MACH SHAU from your friends at the Dunmorean !