Actors Circle Presents “The Haunting of Hill House”

Actors Circle will present its first show of its 38th season, the thriller, The Haunting of Hill House, by F. Andrew Leslie, at Providence Playhouse, 1256 Providence Rd., Scranton. Show dates are Sept.  5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Curtain time is 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

Tickets are $12 general admission; $10 senior citizens, and $8 students.  Reduced prices on Thursday, Sept. 5, are $8 for general and seniors, $6 for students.  

For reservations, call 570-342-9707, or email to tickets@actorscircle.com.  For more information visit the Actors Circle website, or Facebook.

A chilling and mystifying study in mounting terror in which a small group of “psychically receptive” people are brought together in Hill House, a brooding, mid-Victorian mansion known as a place of evil and “contained ill will.” 

Led by the learned Dr. Montague, who is conducting research in supernatural phenomena, the visitors have come to probe the secrets of the old house and to draw forth the mysterious powers that it is alleged to possess—powers which have brought madness and death to those who have lived therein in the past. Montague is played by Chris Eibach of Dunmore.

Margo L. Azzarelli is director. Other cast members are Marnie Azzarelli, Kaylah Hodgins, April Holgate, Peter Miles, Susan Parrick and Rafe Rickard.

Katie Von Bergen is stage manager, Justin O’Hearn is assistant stage manager and creating live sound effects back stage for the show.  Assisting with the special sound effects is Bernard Ott.  

Bob Balitski is designing the lighting and Dominick Azzarelli is set builder. Jeff Ginsberg is producer. Cathy Rist Strauch is publicist.

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

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.

***

“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.