Pittsburg High School theatre teacher Greg Shaw has been honored with the International Thespian Society Spirit of Thespis Award, a discretionary honor that recognizes up to three schools or individuals that, when faced with a serious challenge, demonstrated grace under pressure.
ITS, established in 1929, has 2.4 million members and is the honor society for middle and high school drama students. A thespian troupe is a group of students who have earned induction into the honor society. ITS is a program of the Educational Theatre Association.
Shaw serves as the director of Thespian Troupe 3149 at PHS. In recent years, he has taken numerous productions to Kansas Thespian Festival, including the 2020 opening show Pippin, the 2019 International Thespian Festival show Bring It On, which was also the Kansas Thespians All-State Musical, and the 2018 Kansas Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival main stage show, Urinetown.
Shaw, who earned his degree from Pittsburg State University, serves on the Kansas Thespians Board of Directors and on the Pittsburg Community Theatre Board of Directors. He has continued this service, and his teaching, during a difficult battle with brain cancer that began last year.
In nominating him for the award, Jennifer Morgan-Beauchat, director of Thespian Troupe 287 in Leavenworth, Kansas, described Shaw as being gritty, creative, determined, and a stalwart advocate for his students and program.
“He is considered by many to be a fine director, teacher, and friend,” she said, adding that she wishes the Spirit of Thespis Award “will offer hope and inspiration to an amazing person who represents theatre in our schools with grace and class.”
The award was presented this evening, Friday, June 26, as part of a teacher tribute at the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival held June 22-26.
"This surprise was very special — and no one can usually surprise me!," Shaw said. "I am very honored to have received the award. We always start every pre-show by saying, 'if it falls pick it up, if someone falls, help them up.' This award definitely exemplifies this motto."
Shaw said he "couldn’t accept this without recognizing the team that helped me when my health was suffering: Jason Huffman, Chuck Boyles, Cooper Neil, Susan Laushman, Kimberly Arzoian, Julie Laflen, Andra Stefanoni, Ray Cornell, my daughter, McKenna, the drama mamas and papas, my students, the teachers and administration and I’m sure I’m missing some! None of our success has ever stemmed from luck. Hard work, talent and confidence in our team is what makes PHS Theatre thrive."
About the Educational Theatre Association, home of the International Thespian Society
The Educational Theatre Association is an international nonprofit association with more than 139,000 active members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education: honoring student achievement in theatre; supporting teachers by providing professional development, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization established at nearly 5,000 schools, that has inducted more than 2.4 million theatre students since its founding in 1929. EdTA also produces the International Thespian Festival and publishes Dramatics magazine in print and online for high school theatre students, and Teaching Theatre, a journal for theatre education professionals. The Educational Theatre Foundation is the philanthropic arm of EdTA. Statement on diversity and inclusion.
PHS Theatre has been nominated for five Jester Awards by Music Theater Wichita, the organization announced Monday afternoon, for the February production of Disney’s “Freaky Friday,” the musical.
Since the inception of the Jester Awards, trained volunteer judges have been attending and evaluating dozens of performances across Kansas; the judges’ scoring has determined the award recipients in two dozen categories. This year, 46 judges viewed 144 performances of 48 productions, involving more than 3,000 students and extending as far as Liberal, Hays, Salina, Pittsburg, and Topeka, in addition to the greater Wichita area.
PHS Theatre’s nominations include:
Direction of Show - Jason Huffman and Greg Shaw
Leading Actress - McKenna Shaw (Katherine Blake)
Orchestra Direction - Cooper Neil
Vocal Direction - Kimberly Arzoian
Artistic Guest - Maggie and Mollie Stephens (Choreography)
Starting at 4 p.m. on May 3, PHS Theatre will be among the honorees recognized at the 19th Annual Jester Awards Ceremony — typically held live at the Century II in Wichita — in the first ever digital broadcast in order to observe the restriction on large in-person gatherings.
MTWichita Producing Artistic Director Wayne Bryan noted it will allow the excitement to reach a larger viewership.
“Theater people love the Tony Awards every year, even though most of us have never seen them in person,” he said. “This new online version of the annual Jester Awards will allow the local theatrical excitement to reach a huge audience. The 2020 Jester Awards broadcast will include Broadway celebrity presenters for the first time, and will strive to convey the magic of live theater.”
Continuing a competition element begun last year, each of the Leading Actor and Leading Actress nominees — including PHS senior McKenna Shaw — will be featured in special solo performances, adjudicated by a team of professional judges. At the end of the broadcast, the two top recipients will be announced and awarded their cash scholarships.
“Although we always love the in-person interaction with young people across the state at the Jester Awards, everyone who is part of the Jester Awards Program is rallying behind the necessity of an online event,” said Jester Program Director Angela Trotter. “During the turmoil of a global pandemic, it is so important for us to recognize and encourage our young people for their hard work this year. The Jester Awards will be an evening to remember!”
To join the free broadcast, sign up for MTWichita emails at mtwichita.org, or follow MTWichita on Facebook to get a link and password. It will be hosted by award-winning Wichita theater artists Rachel Downs and Steve Hitchcock. Scholarship awards will be presented to three students, lead male and female honorees and a technical theater recipient.
Past Jester nominations have been made for PHS Theatre’s productions of “Shrek,” “Seussical,” “Band Geeks,” “Addams Family,” “Little Mermaid,” and “Aida,” earning the program 43 Jester awards for those shows.
Fifty cast, crew, and band members will prepare for the performance of "Pippin,” the musical, which judges chose PHS to perform on opening night on the main stage at the Kansas Thespian Festival, with a unique dress rehearsal.
That rehearsal will be open to the public on Sunday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m. at Pittsburg High School, 1978 E. Fourth St., in Pittsburg.
Director Greg Shaw, band director Cooper Neil, and music director Susan Laushman received word in early December that Pippin made the cut to open the three-day festival, which runs Jan. 9-11 in Wichita, Kansas, at the Century II Convention Center. It draws nearly 2,000 students, teachers, and chaperones from across the state.
This is the fourth time for PHS to win such an honor: "Crimes of the Heart" was chosen for the main stage at State in 2011, “Band Geeks” was chosen in 2016, and “Urinetown” was chosen in 2018.
Following the last performance of the regularly-scheduled "Pippin" production at Memorial Auditorium on Nov. 17, cast and crew stored costumes, wigs, makeup, props, and carefully dismantled set pieces for storage in hopes that they would get word from the statewide festival directors that their show had been chosen for performance at the event by judges who travel the circuit of other high school contenders all fall. Cast, crew, and adult chaperones will unload all of it and build the set and install lighting and sound design the morning of Saturday, Jan. 4, followed by a rehearsal that afternoon.
Tickets for the Sunday show are $5 general admission and will be available for purchase at the door starting at 1 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating will begin at 1:30 p.m. Friends of PHS Performing Arts will accept donations during intermission to offset travel expenses.
The teachers who led the audition process would like to thank everyone who auditioned, and they appreciate everyone's patience in announcing the cast list! A read-through will be held today at PHS at 2 p.m. The show will be produced Feb. 20-23 at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets will go on sale in early January.
Ellie - Addy Campbell
Katherine - McKenna Shaw
Gretchen - Kate Thueson
Hannah - Sophie Casper
Savannah - Mona Estes
Torrey - Ainsley Balthazor
Fletcher - Ben Shawn
Wells - Ethan McConnell
Parker/Louis - Xavier Huffman
Pastor Bruno - Keller Erwin
Adam - Gabe Anderson
Mike - Bo McDowell
Dr. Ehrin - Dallas Cox
Ms. Meyers/Savannah’s Mom - Kylee Eidson
Mrs. Luckenbill/Caterer - Emma Noonoo
Mr. Blumen/Student/Caterer - Jack Stefanoni
Grandpa Gordon/Señor O’Brien/Parker’s Dad - Christopher Saman
Officer Sitz/Student/Caterer - Aunyx Estes
Officer Kowalski - Katherine Kirby
Well’s Dad/Caterer - Logan Jones
Mrs. Time/Student/Caterer - Annabella Beachner
Gretchen’s Mom/Student/Caterer - Grace Puckett
Danielle/Savannah Minion/Student - Franchesca Brownhanney
Grandma/Adam’s Mom - River Peery
Laurel/Caterer - Maddy Shawn
Savannah Minion/Student - Ella Rhuems
Savannah Minion/Student - Mallory Womeldorff
Student/Caterer - Ellie Carpenter
Student/Caterer - Alyvia Swartz
Student/Caterer - Greely Arck
Student/Caterer - Anna Hall
Student/Caterer - Hannah Aragon
Student/Caterer - Tate Campbell
Student/Caterer - Declan Ortiz
Ticket sales have begun for “Pippin,” an iconic musical being produced this fall by PHS Theatre at Memorial Auditorium in Pittsburg.
With an infectiously unforgettable score from four-time Grammy winner, three-time Oscar winner, and musical theatre giant Stephen Schwartz, Pippin is the story of one young man's journey to be extraordinary.
Winner of four 2013 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, the updated circus-inspired version of Pippin continues to captivate and appeal to the young at heart throughout the world.
Heir to the Frankish throne, the young prince Pippin is in search of the secret to true happiness and fulfillment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh, and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father, King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, though, Pippin finds that happiness lies not in extraordinary endeavors, but rather in the unextraordinary moments that happen every day.
Pippin's message is universal and will connect with audiences across the age spectrum.
Directed by Greg Shaw, with vocal instruction by Suan Laushman, pit band direction by Cooper Neil, set design by Chuck Boyles, choreography by Maggie and Mollie Stephens, technical design by Jason Huffman, and costume design by Todd Hoover-Holthus.
$6, $8, and $10. They can be purchased online at www.memorialauditorium.org, by calling the box office at 620-231-7827 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or in person at 503 N. Pine during business hours. Based on availability, the may also be purchased at the door starting one hour before curtain.
7:30 p.m. Nov. 15-16, and 2 p.m. Nov. 16-17.
Highlights of the Broadway show featuring the original cast:
Pittsburg High School Theatre is known for tackling topical issues, but the show being producing this week at Memorial Auditorium is especially relevant to teens, cast members say, including being a part of the LGBTQ community, losing family members, and being labeled as a nerd.
When Agnes Evans, played by senior Kylee Eidson, loses her family in a car accident, she must confront the uncomfortable truth that she never really knew her younger sister, Tilly, played by McKenna Shaw.
The show follows Agnes’ adventures following a Dungeons & Dragons module (or map) that Tilly, a “D&D nerd,” wrote when she was 15. The adventures come to life with the help of five life-sized dragon puppets, each weighing about 30 pounds and worn with the help of backpack frames.
Through those adventures — which include stage combat and swordplay taught to the cast by New York City fight choreographer Paul Molnar — Agnes discovers her sister was a lesbian and bullied at school because of it.
Slaying “monsters” on stage could be representational of slaying homophobia, intolerance, and hatred, cast members say.
“It is extremely relevant right now — it’s the third most-produced show among high schools and colleges, and that’s important,” said McKenna Shaw, a senior who plays the role of Tilley. “It recognizes the invisibility, and really focuses on the importance of visibility, of the LGBTQ community. The plot involves playing Dungeons and Dragons, and through that it shows it’s OK to be a bit of a nerd, a weirdo, and to embrace your flaws and imperfections.”
Mona Estes, a senior who plays the role of Lilith, said the show is important because it has messages worth hearing.
“Like, to appreciate your family when you have them, because they won’t always be there, and that’s something we tend to forget,” Estes said. “And, it reminds us to accept everybody for their differences. It touches a bit into the LGBTQ community, and as a member of that community, I think it is really important to have that perspective.”
Other cast members include:
Emma Noonoo (Narrator), Ethan McConnell (Chuck), Tristin Perrin (Miles), Tabor Workman (Kaliope), Xavier Huffman (Orcus), Franchesca Brownhanney (Vera), Bryson Brown (Steve), Grace Puckett (Bugbear 1 / Tiamat), Alyvia Swartz (Bugbear 2 / Tiamat), Aunxy Estes (Bugbear 3 / Tiamat), River Peery (Bugbear 4 / Tiamat), Lillie Chatman (Bugbear 5 / Tiamat), Kennedy Tomasi (Farrah), Sophie Casper (Faelyn), Ella Rhuems (Evil Gabbi), Mallory Womeldorff (Evil Tina), and Annabella Beachner (Evil Becky).
Crew members include:
Madelaine Bishop, Kiersten Deirling, Keller Erwin, Jade Gerrish, Logan Jones, Kole Perez, Ashley Singh, Kaitlyn Chambers, Olivia Doodnauth, Alexa Fletcher, Renee Gibbs, Lexi Ketcham, Drake Plain, Mason Smith, Hayden Stevens, Dallas Cox, Hayden Drake, Ayla Ford, Cole Ingerson, Tate Lawson, Rebekah Sheward, Gavin Steier, Anita White, Kyle Newby, Jason Huffman, Chuck Boyles, and Paul Molnar.
The show is being produced at Memorial Auditorium and is being directed by Greg Shaw.
Performances will be 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5, $8, and $10, and are on sale now at www.memorialauditorium.org, at the box office at 503 N. Pine, and by calling 620-231-7827. They’ll also be sold at the door starting one hour prior to each show.
Tickets sales have begun for Pittsburg High School Theatre’s first show of the season, “She Kills Monsters,” to be performed at Memorial Auditorium, 503 N. Pine, Oct. 11-13.
Audiences can expect hostile fairies, nasty ogres, and '90s pop culture that pays homage to the geek and warrior within us all.
The story, a comedic romp into the world of fantasy and role-playing games, follows Average Agnes as she leaves her childhood home following the death of her totally weird sister, Tilly. When she finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, Agnes embarks on a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly’s refuge.
Showtimes are 7 p.m. Oct. 11 and 12, and 2 p.m. Oct. 12 and 13. Tickets are $5, $8, and $10, and may be purchased online at www.memorialauditorium.org or at 620-231-7827, or at the box office one hour before curtain.
Participants in Just Off Broadway Music Theatre Camp auditioned for roles last night and the cast list has been announced!
Performances will be 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 17, and 2 p.m. Aug. 18 at Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center, 503 N. Pine, Pittsburg, under the direction of Greg Shaw, with musical direction by Mary Jo Harper and choreography by McKenna Shaw. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $5 general admission. Proceeds benefit the PHS Theatre program!
Break a leg, campers!
Know a young thespian who would like the opportunity to grow in musical theatre and experience an immersive two-week experience this summer?
PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw established Just Off Broadway Musical Theatre Camp for students going into sixth through 10th grades and it's been highly successful. Past productions have included "High School Musical Jr." (2015), "Legally Blonde Jr., The Musical" (2016), "All Shook Up Jr." (2017), and "Fame Jr." (2018). This year's production will be "Lion King Jr."
The camp is operated in cooperation with Memorial Auditorium in downtown Pittsburg, where all camp rehearsals are held and the show is produced. Older students who have aged out volunteer as assistants and choreographers.
July 31-Aug. 2: Music, Movement, and Costumes will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Aug. 5-9: Rehearsal will be 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Aug. 10: Rehearsal will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Aug. 11: Rehearsal will be 1 to 6 p.m.
Aug. 12-16: Rehearsal will be 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Aug. 17: Dress rehearsal will be 9 a.m. to noon
Auditions for specific roles will occur on July 25 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Aug. 17: Show times will be 2 and 7 p.m.
Aug. 18: Show time will be 2 p.m.
Fee: $100 per child
Class size is limited to 30 girls and 20 boys.
Proceeds benefit the PHS Theatre Department’s 2019-20 season.
Questions? Call Memorial Auditorium at 620-231-7827.