Rich Howells

‘Hark!’ the Scranton Shakespeare Festival sings in virtual holiday variety show

‘Hark!’ the Scranton Shakespeare Festival sings in virtual holiday variety show
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From a press release:

It has been a difficult year for theatre, but the annual Scranton Shakespeare Festival adapted to the coronavirus pandemic in a number of ways, releasing four shows as radio plays and looking back on its ninth season in a series of podcasts.

Now the festival is ending 2020 with a newly recorded holiday variety show with familiar faces offering tidings of comfort and joy.

“Hark” features a plethora of talented Northeastern Pennsylvania natives and Scranton Shakespeare Festival alums from all over the country warming up their vocal chords and donning their gay apparel for a festive evening of sing-along holiday favorites.

The entertainment is hosted by season regular Conor McGuigan, who will emcee this virtual event with his usual comedic panache and serve as a guide for audiences as they enjoy one holiday music video after the next from their warm and cozy homes.

An audio-only album version of “Hark” is available for $15, an individual download of the video is $20, and a family download is $40. Tickets are on sale now at scrantonshakes.com, and proceeds will help support the festival’s upcoming 10th season.

The Scranton Shakespeare Festival offers free professional theatre to the public. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded by Scranton native Michael Bradshaw Flynn alongside a board of local community members and theatre professionals hailing from the NEPA region.

It all started back in 2011, when Flynn conceived the idea to organize a free public performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Scranton’s historic Nay Aug Park. Nearly 1,000 people made their way to the park to enjoy an afternoon of theatre. The production team was thrilled with the response and determined to continue. Thus, the festival was born.

Since then, the festival has grown year by year. The programming has an emphasis on William Shakespeare as well as a variety of contemporary plays, musicals, and even immersive productions like “Damn Yankees” at PNC Field in Moosic, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at The Marketplace at Steamtown in Scranton, and “Cabaret” at Madame Jenny’s in Scranton.

Scranton Shakes proudly provides a space in which artists and company members can develop original work, offering a supportive community for its artists as well as unique opportunities for audiences to see developing work.

Many productions were conceived, developed, and programmed at Scranton Shakes before enjoying further development and performances elsewhere.

A Scranton native who is based out of New York City, Michael Bradshaw Flynn has served as a co-founder and the artistic director of the festival since its inception. He served as the associate director for the Broadway productions of “It’s Only a Play” and “The Front Page” and most recently worked on the national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” He also served as the associate director of the prestigious Lincoln Center Theater and their production of “Dada Woof Papa Hot” and as the assistant to the playwright for the LCT’s Tony-nominated production of “The Nance.”

Flynn has directed a number of new off-Broadway productions, including “Camel,” the new play by Charly Clive, and “The First Man.” He has also directed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

At Scranton Shakes, he directed a number of productions: “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Tavern,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Damn Yankees,” “Footloose,” and “Troilus and Cressida.” He is currently planning to direct and adapt a Shakespearean comedy for the next season’s production of “The Real Merry Wives of Windsor.”