By 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.
“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.”