Speak softly: Stage troupe explores local legends for benefit of Leadership Lackawanna

Published: October 9, 2014

For its next fundraiser, Leadership Lackawanna will prove that, sometimes, the town rumor mill can be used for good.

With the help of playwright Conor O’Brien and a seven-actor troupe from the Vintage Theatre Ensemble, the organization will present “Whispers of Scranton Legends,” a mystery dinner-theater production, in the newly reopened Anthracite Ballroom of The Leonard (formerly the Moonshine Theater) on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

A cocktail hour with refreshments and light fare kicks off the event at 5:30 p.m., with the show slated to begin at 6:30.

Slocum Hollow Bar & Restaurant of Montage Mountain will cater a seasonal dinner to be served during an intermission between the two acts of the show, which will comprise a series of monologues and short vignettes.

“It’s all loosely inspired by various urban legends and rumors from the greater NEPA region,” Mr. O’Brien said of the show. “Some we pulled from headlines, some are folklore we inherited and took artistic license with.”

Local legends

The Leonard itself, a historic site named for the former hardware store that was housed there, served as inspiration for one of the monologues as well, Mr. O’Brien noted. “Whispers” is the first theatrical event to be staged there since it’s renovation.

“We’re grateful to its management team for breathing new life into it,” he said.

One of the local legends to be explored includes that of Ethel White, a woman who threw herself from the seventh floor of the Hotel Jermyn in downtown Scranton in the summer of 1947, Mr. O’Brien said.

“All they found was a small note saying ‘I’ve been so wrong about everything,’ so there’s been a lot of speculation and we fill in with the artistic license,” Mr. O’Brien said.

“None of this is done with disrespect,” he added. “But in theater and in real life and especially in this area, everything is based on gossip and speculation. It’s about how things evolve into what we’re told.”

The stories will jump all over the history of the region in time, touching down on events that happened during Revolutionary times, the 1920s, the 1940s, the late 1960s and even modern times.

Giving back

Robbie Risley, Leadership Lackawanna Events Committee chairman and chairman of the dinner-theater program, said he hopes to attract a crowd of at least 250 people and encourages guests to arrive early at the theater.

“We’re hoping people will come to mingle, have some drinks and enjoy food during cocktail hour,” Mr. Risley said.

Proceeds from the event will assist Leadership Lackawanna with its operating costs. The group promotes community leadership and executive development and has an alumni network some 1,900 strong. Each class of the program dedicates volunteer work to local projects and causes.

“Leadership Lackawanna does so much for the community,” Mr. Risley said. “It gives back a lot and it really helps a lot of professionals like myself to grow. It’s a great organization.”

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If you go

What: Whispers of Scranton Legends mystery dinner-theater

When: Wednesday, Oct. 22, cocktails at 5:30 p.m.; show starts at 6:30

Where: Anthracite Ballroom at The Leonard (formerly the Moonshine Theater), Adams Avenue

Details: Tickets are $50, available by calling 570-342-7711 or by visiting www.leadershiplackawanna.com.