Scranton Shakespeare Festival Returns This Month

Another decade of free, professional theater is coming to Northeastern Pennsylvania as Scranton Shakespeare Festival is busy gearing up for Season 11. This summer, SSF’s repertory of Shakespearean plays and musicals will transport audiences to worlds both known and unknown, futuristic and nostalgic.⁠

The 2022 season will open with a musical originally planned for Summer 2020. “We Will Rock You,” the Queen jukebox musical set in a not-far off Orwellian world, will be followed by one of William Shakespeare’s earliest romantic comedies, “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” which is evocative of all your favorite 90s romance movies.

Then, Scranton Shakes presents the decadent and highly-stylized musical “Sweet Charity,” based on a Federico Fellini film, written for the stage by Neil Simon, and directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse.

The season will conclude with SSF’s Youth Ensemble’s second inaugural production with the dark and daring cult classic “Heathers the Musical.”⁠

All shows will be performed at Lackawanna College Theater and at a renovated, intimate venue at The Marketplace at Steamtown.

⁠Box office opens June 23. Performances begin June 30.

From the Bard to Broadway Fundraiser Planned for April 24th

Purchase your tickets now for a fundraising event to support the Scranton Shakespeare Festival and the Abington Community Library. These organizations are establishing an exciting partnership by presenting From the Bard to Broadway at Constantino’s at 1385 Lackawanna Trail, Clarks Summit, on Sunday, April 24, from 5 to 8 p.m. 

Guests can expect an evening to remember with great company, delicious food, and unforgettable performances celebrating Shakespeare’s impact on Broadway. 

Attendees will be taken on a journey into the Golden Age of Broadway through the eyes of Shakespeare, with a program including performances from fan favorites such as West Side Story and Kiss Me Kate which will feature notable Scranton Shakespeare Festival performers including Kelly Jean Graham, Stephen Murphy, John Roman Vachino, and Victoria Ferrentino, among others! 

The event will not only feature a cocktail hour, dinner, desserts, and performances, but also a chance to win raffle baskets from featured community businesses.

Michael Bradshaw Flynn, artistic director of Scranton Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Director says, “Scranton Shakes wouldn’t have made it to an 11th season of free, professional theater if it weren’t for formidable partnerships in its first 10 seasons. We were excited when approached by ACL to collaborate with an organization that not only shares our mission for accessibility, but also helps broaden our reach to our neighbors in NEPA.

“ It is our hope that this collaboration is the beginning of a partnership that can include lectures and deeper dives into Shakespearean texts and other programming offered,” he said.

Tickets for the event can be purchased for $75 by visiting the Abington Community Library or over the phone by calling the library at (570) 587-3440 (cash or check will need to be mailed or delivered to the library if reserving tickets over the phone). 

Individuals who wish to only attend the performance, starting at 6:30 pm, may purchase a ticket for $35 which will include dessert, refreshments, and access to the cash bar. Cocktail hour will include an array of appetizers and a cash bar, and guests will also enjoy a buffet dinner including meats and sides with vegetarian and gluten free options for their meals, as well as a variety of dessert choices to enjoy with coffee or tea.

These two nonprofit organizations provide services, opportunities, and enrichment to their communities through engaging programs and educational initiatives. The Abington Community Library is dedicated to its mission to facilitate lifelong learning, provide for leisure-time interests, support student research, and encourage children, teens, and adults to read. 

Scranton Shakespeare Festival is a collective of local community members and theater professionals hailing from the United States and beyond. Scranton Shakes offers a supportive community for its artists as well as unique opportunities for audiences to see developing work.

Learn more about these organizations by visiting their websites, lclshome.org/abington and scrantonshakes.com, or by visiting them on social media at Abington Community Library and Scranton Shakespeare on Facebook, @abingtoncommunitylibrary and @scranton_shakes on Instagram, and @abingtoncomlib @scrantonshakes on Twitter.

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.