The Scranton Shakespeare Festival’s free summer season of stories from far and wide...and something very close to home.

Eight years strong, the Scranton Shakespeare Festival is back in the Electric City this summer with another season of exciting and free professional theatre.

The festival kicks off its season on Thursday, June 27, with the upbeat musical “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” based on the story of Genesis by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The production, directed by Billie Aken-Tyers, will be inventive, fun and inspiring to the young and young at heart. Local Scranton musician and lead singer of Black Tie Stereo, Stephen Murphy, is taking on the role of Joseph. He will share the stage with one of the region’s most treasured voices, Michele Conaboy McGrath, who will portray the Narrator. Catch a performance on June 27, 28 or 29 at 7:30 p.m. and June 30 or Aug 3 at 3 p.m., in the St. Robert Bellarmine Theatre at Scranton Prep, 1000 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA.

Scranton Shakes Artistic Director and festival co-founder, Michael Bradshaw Flynn, is taking on Shakespeare’s epic story of love and sex during the Trojan War, “Troilus and Cressida”. Michael, a Scranton native, adds a unique spin to this famous story exploring conflict in the war rooms and the bedrooms of Troy’s golden days. Local and New York City actors will portray legendary roles like Helen of Troy and Achilles. This production promises to excite both history buffs and not-so-regular theatre goers. Check out “Troilus and Cressida” July 12 and 13 and Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and July 14 at 3 p.m. the Robert Bellarmine Theatre at Scranton Prep, 1000 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA.

Last season audiences adored newcomer Emma Rosa Went’s deceptively simple and heart-warming production of “As You Like It.” This year, she is bringing her directing skills to Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” Set in a straight-laced, buttoned-down, Victorian-esque metropolis, audiences will revel in England’s infamous royal villain’s rebellious and horrifying campaign to becoming King of England. He's the evil king everybody loves to hate, which might be why Richard III the second most produced Shakespeare play ever (after Hamlet). One more reason not to miss Scranton Shakes’s production on July 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and July 21 and Aug. 4 at 3 p.m. at the Royal Theatre at the McDade Center at the University of Scranton, Linden Street, Scranton, PA.

Every season Scranton Shakes features a daring, site-specific production. In 2017, the baseball musical, “Damn Yankees,” was performed at a baseball field. Last year audiences were enveloped by a glass elevator and sweeping staircases in the Marketplace at Steamtown’s for “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”. This year is no different.

“Cabaret” (music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb) is the Broadway musical set in 1929 at Berlin’s Kit Kat Club with a backdrop of racial tension and the pre-war Nazi’s rise to power. This year, Scranton Shakes is turning this production into a titillating night out at Scranton’s new downtown, secret speakeasy, Madam Jenny’s. Scranton-raised Simone Daniel directs this classic show with a fresh, contemporary lens that audiences are sure to get a kick out of, sipping cocktails in their plush velvet booths. Performances for mature audiences only are July 25, 26 and Aug. 4 at 7 p.m., July 27 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and July 28 at 3 and 7 p.m. at Madame Jenny’s, 126 Franklin Ave., Scranton, PA.

A very exciting production is closing out our 8th season of free, professional theater. Broadway legend and Tony nominated, Douglas Carter Beane (Fairycakes ‘14 & Robin Hood: The New Musical ‘15), returns to Scranton with a brand new play set in the Keystone State. Beane’s play “The Behavior Of Light” charts the adventures of shy, amateur artist, Teddy. A young man, who despite living in 1970’s Reading, Pennsylvania, with his television-tending mom, spends his days lost in a whirlwind of love, color, light and creativity. A whirlwind that will remain private, or so he thinks. Performances are July 31 and Aug. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Scranton’s Royal Theatre at the McDade Center, Linden Street, Scranton, PA.

See one or see all five shows. Though tickets are free, reservations are highly recommended. For more details about the shows and the festival visit: www.ScrantonShakes.com or the Scranton Shakespeare Festival on Facebook.