NVE The Trouble with Sketch Shows



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“My college roommate was an owl, and now I’m dating him.”

It’s a twisted take on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,”, and so begins the New Vintage Ensemble’s latest production, “The Trouble with Sketch Shows,” an original piece written, directed, and performed by members of the Ensemble as part of their 2016 season.

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In the hijinks that follow, we meet a self-absorbed newscaster who never actually gets to her program, a school cook, a spelling bee nerd, an Indiana Jones escapade gone wrong, and a truly disgruntled senior citizen, among others.

I was invited to cover one of NVE’s dress rehearsals in order to provide promotional and archival images for the ensemble – it’s pretty cool to get a look at a show before the general public, and I don’t think NVE will have any trouble filling seats for this one.

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My favorite part of this whole process is the originality – every skit in the show came from the minds of people I know, people I’ve hung out with, had brunch with, had drinks with, never knowing that this kind of twisted genius was lurking inside.  I am hugely impressed by their individual contributions, and by the quality of the New Vintage Ensemble’s original works overall.

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The Trouble with Sketch Shows” opens tonight, with two performances Friday night and one on Saturday at the Scranton Cultural Center.

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Hamlet



BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

The New Vintage Ensemble’s production of Hamlet took to the stage this past January and played to full houses for each of its two series of weekend performances.  Well-acted, engaging, and visually stunning, the show was everything that the Ensemble had hoped it would be, and was a great kickoff to their year as the artists-in-residence at the Scranton Cultural Center.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

NVE was kind enough to invite me to their final dress rehearsal to capture some images directly from the show itself.  Dress rehearsals are ideal for this, as there usually isn’t anyone in the audience, and as a photographer I have free reign of the theater and am able to move around at will to best capture the action, all without having to worry about disrupting the experience for paying customers.

So without further ado, here’s a selection of images from the show, highlighting all the depth, moodiness, and tragedy that is Hamlet:

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

BRENT PENNINGTON The New Vintage Ensemble production of "Hamlet," performed at the Scranton Cultural Center in downtown Scranton, PA, on the evening of 07 January 2016.

NVE is preparing for the rest of their 2016 season, with a variety of shows spread between June and December.  Be sure to check out their website and events pages for more information!

July First Friday performance



BRENT PENNINGTON New Vintage Ensemble members Casey Thomas and Kimmie Leff perform in "Color so Real," a murder mystery set in Scranton, during First Friday in downtown Scranton on the evening of 03 July 2015.

BRENT PENNINGTON New Vintage Ensemble members Casey Thomas and Kimmie Leff perform in "Color so Real," a murder mystery set in Scranton, during First Friday in downtown Scranton on the evening of 03 July 2015.

Scranton kicked off July with it’s monthly First Friday arts celebration, downtown businesses opening their doors to host local artists and art-admirers through the evening.  This month’s timing blended the annual Independence Day festivities into the mix, which made for a fantastic event.

I spent the first hour or so at The Leonard, where the New Vintage Ensemble had scheduled two performances of “Color so Real,” a play written by local playwright and ensemble member Sara Regan, performed by ensemble members Kimmie Leff and Casey Thomas, and directed by Mandy Boyle, my lovely fiancee.

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The Last Cocktail Party of Venus



BRENT PENNINGTON Kelly Farrell, Conor O'Brien, & Emily Maier pose for the promotional shoot of "The Last Cocktail Party of Venus," held at The Vintage on the evening of 09 July 2013.

Desmond & Ophelia are a young couple.
Desmond & Ophelia are throwing a cocktail party.
Desmond & Ophelia love mint juleps.
Desmond & Ophelia probably hate you.
You are invited to their cocktail party.

Break our your black dresses, ties, and jackets because on August 1oth The Vintage is presenting its latest production, “The Last Cocktail Party of Venus.”  Written by Conor O’Brien, co-owner of The Vintage, this is more than a performance – it’s an experience.  Presented as a semi-interactive experience, “The Last Cocktail Party of Venus” is part storytelling, part catharsis, and partly an intoxicated mess of secrets.

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Caroline Smith @ The Vintage



BRENT PENNINGTON "Caroline Smith" plays at The Vintage in downtown Scranton on the evening of 27 May 2013.

So was I rocking out in downtown Scranton, over Memorial Day weekend?  Heck yes!  (Yeah, I know, I’m only about six weeks late here…but getting back on track.)

Anyway, I was back at The Vintage – which is pretty much my go-to hotspot in town – Mandy and I hung out for the night’s concert, which featured “Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps.”  And they were awesome – what a voice, what a sound!  I’m not entirely sure what genera they fall into, I guess sort of a soulful, modern folk sound, and they’re well worth checking out.

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And that’s a wrap



BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of "Pride & Prejudice" poses together on the set following their third successful performance.  11 May 2013

And this is it, the last batch from what has been an amazing eight-week adventure. This happens with all big projects, the sudden, startling realization that it’s over and the sense of emptiness that goes with it. There’s a whole mix of emotions: the joy of having created so many great images, pride in a job well done, a sense of comradery with the cast and crew, and a sadness that we won’t be working together any longer.

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“Pride & Prejudice”



BRENT PENNINGTON Scenes from The Vintage's production of "Pride & Prejudice" captured during the dress rehearsal on 09 May 2013.

Without further ado, I simply want to introduce the photos of “Pride & Prejudice” itself. I don’t think I really have to say anything about them; the dedication, hard work, and outstanding performances by the actors and crew really say it all!

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Some random images from “Pride & Prejudice”



BRENT PENNINGTON Cast members from The Vintage's production of "Pride & Prejudice" take to the streets of downtown Scranton during 1st Friday to promote the show on the evening of 03 May 2013.

“Pride & Prejudice” opened to a packed house and the first three performances went off without a hitch. They’re taking a break during the week and will run the second set of three performances on Friday and Saturday – so if you haven’t gotten down to see it yet, this is your last chance!

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“Pride & Prejudice” opens tonight!



BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional images featuring the cast of "Pride & Prejudice," produced for The Vintage Theater. Session was held at Conor O'Brien's home on Saturday, 23 March 2013.

I covered the dress rehearsal last night, but all I’ll tell you is that this show is AWESOME!  I loved it!  If you’ve already got your tickets then you’re in for a real treat (and if you don’t, get them while you can!).

All my best wishes to the cast and crew for their opening tonight! Break a leg!

“Pride & Prejudice” featured in the Times-Tribune



Times-Tribune - P&P Article

“Pride & Prejudice” got a great write-up in Scranton’s Times-Tribune this morning. The article explored the facets of the show, including its move to the 1960s and the challenges that come with writing a new script while remaining true to the message and nature of the original Austen work.

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