If You Can Play Scranton: A Theatrical History, 1871-2010 by Nancy McDonald

ABOUT Nancy McDonald

Nancy McDonald
Music has always been a part of Nancy McDonald’s life.

Her father, Paul McDonald, worked as an engineer for the Scranton Electric Company, later PPL. As a young man, he worked in theaters as an electrician under the chief stage electrician, Terence Carden.

His u More...



If You Can Play Scranton is a theatrical history of America as seen through the famous performers who came to Scranton, Pennsylvania. It discusses performances by the best known actors and actresses of the tragic and comic stage, ethnic performers, vaudevillians, musical comedy, concert, orchestra and band performers from 1871-2010. At the turn of the 20th century, Scranton was one of the most famous try-out towns for legitimate stage productions. The sophisticated taste of its audience, created by extensive exposure to world renown talent, continues to this day.

298 pgs., 5.5" x 8.5"
ISBN 9780983741824


"From mining's glory days to That Championship Season, who would have known that Scranton was such a national hot-bed for performance and that its stages hosted so many giants? Thanks to Nancy McDonald, we all will! Packed with information, yet always an enjoyable and fascinating read."
- Alan Baker, The Choral Society of Northeast Pennsylvania

"Jack Benny and Mae West, vaudeville and big bands, stage plays and movie stars – to open this treasure of a book is to relive Scranton's entertainment scene from its heyday right up to modern times. With juicy details and magnificent photographs, Nancy McDonald captures a beloved aspect of the city's history."
- Cheryl A. Kashuba, local historian & Scranton Times-Tribune columnist

"With incredible detail and occasional whimsy, Nancy McDonald brilliantly chronicles the range and high caliber of artists subjected to the unyielding scrutiny of the unique culture that was – and is – Scranton. Nancy demonstrates, with great pride, how Scranton is a footnote in the history of America’s performing arts."
- Dr. Paulette Merchel, retired theater program director, Marywood University

"If You Can Play Scranton is a work that anyone who is interested in Scranton's entertainment history MUST read. Nancy McDonald has dedicated a lifetime to researching the topic and her work provides an excellent document of the amazing talent that has appeared here."
- Mary Ann Moran Savakinus, director, Lackawanna Historical Society

"I found If You Can Play Scranton to be very informative and interesting. It's a great read for anyone with Pennsylvania roots."
- Karl Wegforth, president, Dunmore Historical Society