Photo courtesy Erin Kata Photography/Jester Awards 2018
Pittsburg High School Theatre came away with seven Jester Awards from Music Theatre Wichita on Sunday based on achievements for “The Little Mermaid,” the musical.
This school year, 102 judges viewed 127 performances of 41 productions, involving more than 2,800 students and 41 schools across Kansas.
“Being involved in the Jester's organization is great for our program, and to be recognized in 17 categories for one show is a huge honor,” said Director Greg Shaw. “It’s certainly humbling that they think highly of what we're doing here.”
The awards PHS earned this year are Outstanding Stage Crew, Outstanding Technical Achievement (Hazel Harper/Hair and Makeup), Outstanding Artistic Guest (Maggie Stephens and Mollie Stephens/choreography), Outstanding Direction of Show (Greg Shaw), Outstanding Lead Actress (McKenna Shaw/Ariel), a $1,250 Technical Scholarship (Hazel Harper), and a $2,500 Performer Scholarship (McKenna Shaw).
Awards were presented at the Jester Awards Ceremony — a red carpet, black tie affair — held in the Century II Convention Center in Wichita. During the ceremony, the nine high schools nominated for Outstanding Overall Production, which included PHS, each performed a medley from their shows, and the lead actor and lead actress nominees, including PHS’s Cassie Hurt-McLarty, a senior, and McKenna Shaw, a sophomore, each performed solo excerpts.
“It's always nice to get feedback, especially from people who see lots and lots of theater, that you're doing things at a high level,” Shaw said. “Our kids being featured on stage at Jester’s is a feather in their cap and something they will always remember.”
This is the third year in a row PHS has participated in the Jester Awards program and the third year in a row PHS has earned nominations.
In 2017, PHS earned 17 nominations for two shows (“Seussical” and “The Addams Family”), coming home from the awards ceremony with 11 Jester Awards. In 2016, PHS earned 18 nominations for two shows (“Shrek” and “Band Geeks”), coming home with 15 awards.
This year, rules stipulated that each school could be judged on just one production. PHS opted to have “The Little Mermaid,” performed in February at Memorial Auditorium, judged for consideration.
Other nominations PHS earned this year for “The Little Mermaid” were: Overall production, leading actress (Cassie Hurt-McLarty/Ursula), supporting actor (Matt Buck/Flounder), cameo performer (Gabe Anderson/Chef Louise), best ensemble/chorus, orchestra direction (Cooper Neil), vocal music direction (Susan Laushman), scenic design (Chuck Boyles/Greg Shaw), design guest (Todd Hoover-Holthus and Phillip Hoover-Holthus/costume design, Jason Huffman/sound design, and Kyle Newby/lighting design), and graphic design (Anita White/poster).
PHS Theatre also has enjoyed other successes this year; the fall musical, "Urinetown," was chosen for State in January, and then qualified as one of only 11 schools in the nation to be performed at the International Thespian Festival in June.
A fundraiser is underway to send students in Music Rep Theatre, Band, and Stagecraft classes, who together comprise the cast, crew, and pit band of “Urinetown,” to the festival.
For the 11th year, Pittsburg High School’s Rep Theatre class is shining a spotlight on a national social issue in the form of an original theatrical performance.
This year, the theme is bias, hate, and discrimination, and it will come to life on stage at Memorial Auditorium, 503 N. Pine in Pittsburg, April 18 and April 20, under the direction of Greg Shaw, PHS theater teacher.
Past years have seen the class research and commission an original play by professional playwright Debbie Lamedman on timely topics such as school violence, eating disorders, climate change, bullying, prescription drug abuse, dating violence, Autism and differences, socio-economic diversity, technology addiction, and mental illness/depression. Their shows have drawn national attention and helped secure a national Character Education award for PHS.
Lamedman, who lives in Oregon, is also a director, acting coach, and author and editor of eight acting books.
This year's show is called "The Chasm Between Us: A close examination of bias, hate and discrimination in America.”
“The idea behind this piece is to present and portray various situations where we evidence discrimination, bias and hate in daily life,” Lamedman said.
For senior Miranda Madden, an award-winning member of the theatre program’s technical crew, it was a chance to be on stage again — something she doesn’t do often. It also was an eye-opening experience.
“I haven’t experienced bullying or discrimination, but I’ve struggled with self-image,” Madden said. “This play has really opened my eyes and shown me that everyone has a story. It’s made me realize that it’s OK and I’m not alone.”
“My character says, ‘We are all fighting the same battle every day. To love ourselves, as we are.’ The play has taught me that we’re all more alike than we are different, but those differences are what make us unique.”
In one scene, neighbors discussing a crime that happened the previous day blame a Muslim family.
“They don’t ever say anything rude straight to my character,” said Mona Estes, a sophomore who plays a member of the Muslim family, “but they definitely make me out to be a monster.”
Estes, who is African-American, said prior to being in the play, her definition of discrimination was limited to what she has experienced herself, including racism and sexism.
“But there is ageism and slandering those who have grown up in a different country,” she said. “Being in this play has opened my eyes to a lot of things. It’s also taught me to take more time to judge a person — their outside appearance does not always equal what’s inside. There’s a lot that I hope people learn from watching this play.”
Shaw said the show is relevant not just locally, but nationally. Data released by the FBI in 2017 indicate hate crimes are on the rise, particularly against Jews, Muslims, and LGBT people, the data shows. There were more than 6,100 reported incidents of hate crimes in 2016, up from 5,800 the year before, according to the report.
According to data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2015, white Americans use drugs more than black Americans, but blacks are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites. The U.S. Sentencing Commission found that black men receive prison sentences that are 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who committed the same crimes.
The 45-minute production will be appropriate for middle and high school aged students. After each show, the cast and community members will take the stage to conduct a 15- to 20-minute "talk-back" Q&A session with audience members, who may ask questions of the cast or the director.
There will be one public performance at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18. School performances will be held during the day on Friday, April 20. Schools should call Memorial Auditorium at 620-231-7827 prior to April 20 to register so seating can be reserved. There is no cost to attend and no tickets required. For more information, email Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org
We've been in full-on fundraiser mode since February and haven't stopped to take a breath. Thanks to everyone who is helping support PHS Theatre in our quest to perform at the International Thespian Festival this summer! We have completed several fundraisers and are planning more, and have received many generous contributions.
Through April 30, Neptune Auto will donate $2 from every oil change to PHS Theatre's fundraising efforts. Stop by Neptune soon to get friendly, professional service while helping our cause!
Coming up May 25: Take 2 of Evening With the Stars cabaret!
Circle B Ranch Event Center has once again offered us their space and a different group of talented students and alumni have committed to perform. We'll be serving up a buffet of delicious appetizers and desserts, and there will be a cash bar. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://bit.ly/2vk6z9A.
For continued updates, please visit the "Lincoln or Bust" page of our website or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PittsburgHighSchoolPerformingArts.
Want to donate? An easy way is to go directly to our GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/phs-theatre-to-perform-nationally
Or, mail a check made out to PHS Theatre to Pittsburg High School, 1978 E. Fourth St., Pittsburg, KS 66762
It's almost show week! Cast, crew, band, and directors are spending the weekend at Memorial Auditorium in dress and technical rehearsals, fine-tuning this show! Make plans to attend with your family!
Hot on the heels of Statewide recognition and selection to perform at the International Thespian Festival in June, PHS Theatre is back on stage rehearsing for, designing, and building an iconic tale that dates back 181 years.
The department will produce “The Little Mermaid,” the musical, at Memorial Auditorium, 503 N. Pine, Feb. 14-17. This one is going to be over-the-top, promises Director Greg Shaw. Among the many highlights: 131 costumes and 90 wigs, actors wearing roller skates, and state-of-the-art projections.
Long before it was a Disney favorite and then a stage play, it was penned by Hans Christian Anderson.
“It’s a family-friendly, iconic story that actually dates back to 1837,” said Director Greg Shaw. “It’s still extremely relatable to audiences today.”
The plot hinges on Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, who wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above. She bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, her aunt, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends, Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab, to restore order under the sea.
“The costumes are going to be elaborate, over the top – maybe more so than we’ve ever done before,” Shaw said. “The sets will be straight out of a Disney cartoon. We’re using projections as well as extremely detailed and elaborate 3D set pieces. And the dance numbers, as always, will be fun and creative and in the spirit of great Disney musicals.”
It’s the first time for the production to be staged in Pittsburg.
The cast numbers 33, with a 20-member crew and a 20-piece pit orchestra that will provide the music. Another 15 students in stage craft classes are building the set. Staff at Memorial Auditorium are collaborating with students on lighting and sound design.
"It's the perfect example of collaboration in education," Shaw said.
The production will be adjudicated, as were last year’s “Seussical” and 2016’s “Shrek,” for Music Theatre Wichita’s Jester Awards later this spring.
The run time is two hours with an intermission.
Tickets are on sale through Memorial Auditorium and may be purchased online at www.memorialauditorium.org or by calling the box office during business hours at 620-231-7827.
Tickets are $10 for reserved seats on the main floor, or $5 and $8 for balcony seats.
Little Mermaid-themed souvenirs will be sold in the lobby before and after the show and during intermission, and young audience members will have an opportunity to get their photograph taken on stage with Ariel and Prince Eric after the show.
Pittsburg High School Theatre Department in Pittsburg, Kansas, has been invited to perform at the most prestigious venue for high school theatre: At the International Thespian Festival at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, June 25-30, 2018! We are one of only 11 schools in the nation to qualify, and this is a first for our school!
We were chosen based on the quality of our fall musical, "Urinetown," a parody of a show that opened on Broadway in 2001 and was Tony award-winning. We're proud to say our performance of "Urinetown" was award-winning, too: After performing it for our school in November 2017, we learned we'd qualified to take it to our State Thespian Festival and perform it for nearly 2,000 students and theatre teachers from across Kansas. What an honor! It was at State that we learned we had qualified for Internationals.
In addition, three our our students qualified for individual events at Internationals in musical theatre and sound design!
We were elated. We hugged. We cried. Some of us fell down. And then we realized: We had to raise $45,000 by June.
Please consider helping us get there with a financial donation of any size. We launched a Go Fund Me campaign today.
Check it out: https://www.gofundme.com/phs-theatre-to-perform-nationally
Or, send a check directly to Pittsburg High School made out to PHS Theatre, c/o Greg Shaw, 1978 E. Fourth St., Pittsburg, KS 66762
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!!!!!