We pulled aside a few of the many talented cast members of Little Mermaid at rehearsal today so you could meet them and find out who they portray!
They might be familiar — they also performed in the internationally-recognized Urinetown!
Tickets go on sale at Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center on Tuesday, Jan. 16! Get 'em while you can. #PHSLittleMermaid
We're pinching ourselves. We thought we might have even been dreaming. But it's true!
The amazing news came on Day 2 of the Kansas Thespian Festival, the morning after an 18-hour day in which we built the set, designed the tech, ran rehearsal, got in costume, and performed Urinetown on the Main Stage for almost 2,000 attendees, then did strike and put it all back in the vans ... and then went to the after-party!
Now, more hard work begins: We have to come up with the money to get there in June, and we have to keep the show fresh so will be having monthly rehearsals.
Join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium in Pittsburg for a free encore performance of "Urinetown" before we load it up and take it on the road!
PHS Theatre was chosen by judges to perform at the State Thespian Conference in Wichita on Thursday! It's a conference that we raise money for and attend each year, along with a couple of thousand students from across Kansas. It's a huge honor to be chosen to perform at it and takes an incredible amount of planning, rehearsing, and fundraising to pull it all off. That's where YOU come in.
Today, on the last day of our Christmas vacation, we climbed out of bed before daybreak and are already at Memorial Auditorium unloading all of the set pieces, costumes, makeup, shoes, wigs, and props that we stored in vans after our production in November.
In one day we will build the set, design the tech (lights, sound board, etc.), rehearse, do mic checks, and then perform a FREE show for the public at 7:00 p.m. as a "dress rehearsal." After the show, we'll then disassemble the set, load it and everything back in the vans, and hopefully get a few hours of sleep before the first day of school starts on Wednesday!
On Wednesday afternoon, we'll load busses and head west and on Thursday repeat the day-long set building process again at the Century II Performing Arts Center in Wichita before performing at 7:00 Thursday night!
Our theatre booster group, Friends of PHS Performing Arts, will be accepting donations at the door for anyone who would like to contribute a few dollars to help support the trip and meals while there (we'll be feeding 60 people each day in addition to paying for the hotel rooms and conference!). We hope that just as sports enthusiasts fill the stands for football and basketball teams competing at playoffs and substate, that our community will turn out at 7:00 p.m. to cheer us on and be a wonderful audience. It's an honor not just for us, but for our entire school district and community as about 2,000 people from all over the state will be in the audience Thursday night to witness what Pittsburg talent is like!
GO PURPLE DRAGONS!!!!!
Pittsburg High School Music Rep Theatre will bring to life a side-splitting send-off of greed, love, revolution (and musicals!), in a time when water is worth its weight in gold, with “Urinetown” on Nov. 17-19 at PHS.
Winner of three Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards and two Obie Awards, “Urinetown” is a hilarious musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself!
In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity's most basic needs.
Amid the people, a hero decides that he's had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom.
The show, directed by Greg Shaw, is accompanied by a live band under the direction of Cooper Neil, with vocal direction by Susan Laushman. As part of their semester-long rehearsals, the cast completed a master class with Broadway actress Janine DiVita, who once played the lead female role of Pennywise.
Performance times are 7 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18, and 2 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19.
Tickets will be available for purchase at the door: $7 for adults, $5 for students.
Clearly we're a bit behind at blogging: We've already wrapped the first show of the school year! "Leaving Iowa," performed Oct. 12, 14, and 15, was a hit, making audiences laugh and cry!
Now, PHS Theatre is focused on the first musical of the season: "Urinetown," being produced by Music Rep Theatre class. Directed by Greg Shaw, with vocal direction by Susan Laushman and pit band direction by Cooper Neil, it follows a string of hit Music Rep shows including "Band Geeks" and "The Addams Family," both Jester Award winners. It will be performed at PHS Nov. 17-19.
So far, so good: Broadway actress Janine DiVita (Rizzo in "Grease," among other roles) spent Sunday afternoon in a master class with the cast and proclaimed the first act she saw "awesome," "impressive," and "hilarious." DiVita should know what she's talking about: She played Pennywise in "Urinetown" while attending the University of Michigan — one of the leading schools for music theatre in the nation. In fact, DiVita had this to say on her visit to PHS:
While at PHS, DiVita did scene work with the cast, including Alexis Daniels as Senator Fipp, Aidan Harries as Cladwell, Dominic Stefanoni as Cladwell's lackey McQueen, Addy Campbell as Cladwell's daughter Hope, Matthew Buck as Bobby Strong, and the ensemble.
She also worked individually with five cast members (McKenna Shaw, Alexis Daniels, Cassie Hurt-McLarty, Gabe Anderson, and Matthew Buck) on solo numbers they're preparing for State Thespian Conference IE's, college auditions, and Music Rep Recital Night.
And, before leaving, she performed a number on stage herself, and answered questions from the cast, parents, and others in attendance.
Thanks, Janine, for sharing your time and talent with students from Pittsburg High School! And thanks to a private donor and the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas for providing a grant that made the experience possible!
The Friends of PHS Performing Arts is proud to announce that Pittsburg High School Theatre Teacher Greg Shaw was chosen for an honorable mention in the national Excellence in Theatre Education Award presented by the Tony Awards.
The Tony Awards announced the news today with higher education partner and award presenter Carnegie Mellon University.
He is one of just 20 teachers selected for the honor from hundreds of deserving nominations across the U.S. He was nominated for the award by the Friends group, which is comprised of parents who support the performing arts program financially and with human resources by volunteering. A parent and a student created a 3-minute video, while others, including a former student and an administrator, wrote letters of recommendation.
The Excellence in Theatre Education Award recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. A panel of judges was comprised of the American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League, Carnegie Mellon University and other leaders from the theatre industry.
Rachel Harry, a 30-year veteran theatre teacher of Hood River, Oregon, was named the recipient of the award and will receive the award at the 71st Annual Tony Awards on Sunday, June 11, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Shaw’s name, along with the other finalists, will appear in the Playbill.
Harry will receive $10,000 for her theatre program, round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations for her and a guest to New York City, and tickets to the Tony Awards and Gala.
“I was honored to have been nominated for the award, but to receive honorable mention and be listed alongside such great theatre teachers across the country that create amazing theatre, innovate in the classroom, and aggressively advocate for the arts is humbling,” Shaw said Monday afternoon. “Needless to say, I am very proud of the award and I share it with all the many people who have had a hand in creating the Pittsburg High School Theatre Department.”
Shaw began teaching the program at PHS 10 years ago, collaborating with band teacher Cooper Neil and vocal teacher Susan Laushman on musical productions and expanding the annual production list. He partnered with Mt. Carmel Foundation to produce an annual gift to the community, “Breakfast With Santa,” each December. He has engaged former students to serve as choreographers, and worked with a professional playwright to create a series of annual social issues plays that have garnered national attention.
In recent years, the program has received some 40 nominations for Jester Awards from Music Theatre Wichita for shows like “Shrek” and “Seussical,” has been chosen for a main stage performance of “Band Geeks” at the Kansas Thespian Conference, and has produced numerous scholarship winners.
Shaw also serves on the board of directors at Pittsburg Community Theatre, where he has directed such hits as “Annie,” “Junie B. Jones,” and “13," and has directed 13 shows for Shawnee Mission's Theatre in the Park.
Shaw is a native of Gardner, Kansas, where he graduated from Gardner-Edgerton High School in 1987. He earned his master's of science in education with an emphasis in communication/theatre from Pittsburg State University in 2006.
PHS was honored to receive 11 Jester Awards from Music Theatre Wichita Friday night. They are:
• Direction of Show: Greg Shaw/Seussical
• Leading Actress: McKenna Shaw/Seussical/Gertrude McFuzz
• Leading Actor: Andrew Ortolani/Addams Family/Gomez Addams
• Supporting Actress: McKenna Shaw/Addams Family/Wednesday Addams
• Ensemble/Chorus: Seussical
• Choreography/Staging: Maggie Stephens and Molly Stephens/Seussical
• Stage Crew: Addams Family
• Scenic Design: Greg Shaw and Chuck Boyles/Addams Family
• Costumes: Todd and Philip Hoover-Holthus/Seussical
• Lighting: Kirsten Burke and Olivia Ellison/Seussical
• Sound: Jason Huffman, Miranda Madden, and Elisabeth Brown/Seussical
We'd like to also recognize the following for being nominated for Jester Awards, an honor in and of itself:
• Small Ensemble: The Wickershams (Gabe Abarca, Matt Buck, Griffin Cooper, Maddy Emerson, Chance Estes, Jazmin Havens, Journey Jaramillo, PJ Monsour, Dominic Stefanoni)/Seussical
• Outstanding Lead Actor: Sammy Jameson/Seussical/Horton
• Outstanding Musical Direction: Cooper Neil/Seussical
• Outstanding Orchestra: Seussical
• Instrumental Performer: Zach Uttley/Ukulele serenade/Addams Family
• Outstanding Vocal Direction: Susan Laushman/Seussical
• Outstanding Overall Production: Seussical
This year, 94 judges viewed 129 performances of 44 productions, involving more than 2,500 students and 38 schools across the state of Kansas.
PHS also was delighted to perform a montage from Seussical on stage during the ceremony, and to see Senior Andrew Ortolani, who received an Outstanding Lead Actor Award, perform a number as Gomez Addams from The Addams Family.
We also were impressed with the performances of our fellow nominees from across the state! Congratulations to all for a terrific season!
Music Theatre Wichita officially announced on Monday that Pittsburg High School was among the nominees for the 16th Annual Jester Awards, a program designed to celebrate excellence in high school musical theatre. Each year, trained volunteer judges attend and evaluate dozens of performances. Last year, PHS was nominated for 18 awards, receiving 14 plus a Jester scholarship.
This year, 94 judges viewed 129 performances of 44 productions, involving more than 2,500 students and 38 schools across the state of Kansas. The program began in Wichita, but now extends as far as Liberal, Hays, Salina, and Pittsburg, in addition to the greater Wichita area.
In total, PHS received 17 Jester nominations this year. They are:
The Jester Awards Ceremony will take place at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m. Honorees in 24 categories will be announced during the ceremony, and several of the honorees will perform numbers from their shows, including Pittsburg High School. One leading male honoree and one leading female honoree will receive a scholarship award of $2,500, and one student will receive a scholarship for their achievements in technical theatre.
Tickets to the ceremony are $10 each. Parents or family members planning on attending with Pittsburg High School should contact Andra Stefanoni ASAP to put your name on the list; Director Greg Shaw is handling sign-up for cast, crew, band, and other students, who will ride busses to the event.
Alumni of the Jester Awards program can be seen onstage and backstage at Music Theatre Wichita this summer, as well as in regional theatres across the country and on Broadway, including in this year’s new Broadway musical Anastasia.
“The Jester Awards program has become one of the most gratifying aspects of Music Theatre Wichita," said Producing Artistic Director Wayne Bryan. "The dedication of these students and teachers is a vibrant reminder of the how powerful the arts can be in opening minds, unlocking potential, and enriching a community.”
Congratulations to all the nominees from our school and others!
When PHS junior Alexis Daniels learned she was cast as JoJo in “Seussical,” she immediately texted her family with the announcement: “News! News! News! We have another JoJo in the family!”
Alexis is the second from her family to play the role of the imaginative 11-year-old boy who longs to be valued and loved for himself, and finds a friend in Horton. She follows her older sister, Lacey Daniels, who was cast as JoJo in the first “Seussical” to be produced at PHS in 2007.
Greg Shaw, their director, says the sisters both have a strong sense of “the allusion of the first time” on stage.
“The entire story is taking place through the imagination of a young child, so the appearance this is the first time JoJo has had these ideas is very important,” he says. “It must seem original. Both Alexis and Lacey allow themselves to experience their environment and other characters as though they have zero idea where things will end up.”
But when Alexis auditioned for “Seussical,” she had her eye on the role of JoJo and actually had rehearsed the audition cut quite a bit. She didn’t consult Lacey, nor did Lacey offer advice.
“It’s caused me to figure everything out on my own and make it original,” Alexis says.
This is the second time in a year that Alexis has played the part of a young boy; in last fall’s “Addams Family” she was Pugsley, the ornery little brother of Wednesday Addams. But this role demands a much lighter approach, with curiosity and wonder.
“I did have quite an imagination when I was younger, so I’m trying to connect with that, but also remember that I’m a boy in this show and not little Alexis,” she says.
Lacey, who got her start in theatre as a child in church musicals and elementary school plays, portrayed JoJo as a sophomore.
Like Alexis, the previous fall she also had played the part of an 11-year-old boy, in a production at Pittsburg State. She went on to play Anne in “Anne Frank” and Sandy in “Grease” her senior year.
Lacey earned a degree in English and creative writing at the University of Kansas, where theatre continued to be a part of her life; she served as stage manager for several plays.
But “Seussical” will always occupy a special place in her heart.
“It was the first time we had athletes in productions at PHS, and the first time people began to take theatre seriously,” she says. “It was pretty amazing to see this huge football player, who played Horton, sitting on a plaster tree singing his heart out. ‘Seussical’ is when barriers really started breaking down. I think it was the show that opened it up to be cool for everyone.”
“There’s such a culture there that’s so unlike anything else, unlike any other group of people you spend time around.”
Lacey won't be able to make it to the 10-year reunion for former "Seussical" cast members and cast members of other PHS musicals during Shaw's tenure, but she plans to be in the audience Thursday night.
"I know she'll be terrific," she says of Alexis.