Dunmoreans to Take Stage in Scranton Shakespeare Festival

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 Reinecki is shown in A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

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.

Joe McGurl is shown in a ScrantonShakes original production of A Tale for Winter.

“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.

Scranton Shakes Reveals Show Lineup for Upcoming Season

Shakespeare season

Eight years strong, Scranton Shakespeare Festival continues to offer the Northeastern Pennsylvania community exciting, free professional theater. Scranton Shakes is a non-profit organization, supported by the generosity of national and state-run organizations, local fund-raising, and audience donations.

To get in the mood for this season, Scranton Shakes is hosting an elegant fundraiser, A Night At The Tonys on Sunday, June 9, at 7:30 p.m. at The Scranton Club. This glamorous viewing party for the coveted Tony Awards is complete with red carpet entry, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and live entertainment. Tickets are $35 and will be available at the door and at http://www.ScrantonShakes.com. The event will benefit the Scranton Shakespeare Festival.

Kicking off this year’s season at Scranton Prep on June 27-30 and again on Aug. 3 is the upbeat Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which will be directed by Billie-Aken Tyers.

Local musician and lead singer of Black Tie Stereo, Stephen Murphy, last seen with SSF in its production of The Pirates of Penzance, will take on the leading role of Joseph. He will be sharing the stage with one of the region’s most treasured voices, Michele Conaboy McGrath, as the Narrator. A special performance on Friday, June 28, will also welcome the hearing-impaired community by feature sign language interpreters.

SSF Artistic Director, Michael Bradshaw Flynn, will direct Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare’s epic of love and sex during the Trojan War. Michael, raised in Scranton and co-founder of the festival, has always had a finger on the pulse on what the community will respond to. He’ll be adding his unique spin on this famous story that explores conflict in the war-rooms and the bedrooms of Troy’s golden days. With both local and New York City actors playing legendary roles such as Helen of Troy and Achilles, this production will be presented at Scranton Prep, July 12 – 14 and Aug 3.

Emma Rosa Went’s deceptively simple and heart-warming production of As You Like It last season was a favorite of audiences. This year she will be turning her directing skill to Shakespeare’s Richard III, featuring England’s infamous royal villain. Set in a straight-laced, buttoned-down, Victorian-esque metropolis, audiences will revel in Richard’s violent, rebellious and horrifying campaign to becoming King of England. He’s the evil king everybody loves to hate, which might be why Richard III remains the second most produced Shakespeare play ever! Scranton Shakes’ version will be presented at the Royal Theatre of the University of Scranton from July 19 – 21 and again on Aug 4.

Each year Scranton Shakes has featured a daring, site-specific production to its season. In 2017, it was Damn Yankees, the baseball musical  presented at PNC Field, and last year was How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying in downtown’s Marketplace at Steamtown mall (complete with glass elevator and sweeping staircases).

And this year is no different.  The Broadway musical Cabaret, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, feels like a night out in 1929’s Berlin’s Kit Kat Club, with a backdrop of racial tension and the pre-war Nazi’s rise to power. Liza Minnelli climbed to stardom playing Sally Bowles in the movie. SSF will use Scranton’s new downtown, secret speakeasy, Madam Jenny’s at the Bittenbender, as an immersive venue for a titillating night out. Simone Daniel, a native of Scranton, is directing this classic show with a fresh, contemporary lens that audiences are sure to enjoy from their plush velvet booths while sipping delicious cocktails. This show, which is for mature audiences, will run July 25 – 28 and Aug 4.

To close the season will be a very exciting production from Broadway legend and Tony- nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane, who presented Fairycakes with SSF in 2014 and premiered Robin Hood: The New Musical in 2015. He returns to Scranton Shakes with a brand new play set right here in Pennsylvania.  The Behavior Of Light charts the adventures of shy, amateur artist Teddy, who despite living in 1970’s Reading, Pa., with his television-tending mom, spends his days lost in a whirlwind of love, color, light, and creativity. The show will run at the Royal Theatre, University of Scranton, July 31 – Aug 2.

Make your reservations for the shows with our box office. Though tickets are free, reserving them is highly recommended. You’ll find more information about the shows and the festival here at www.ScrantonShakes.com