Pittsburg High School has been chosen as the KSHSAA Performing Arts School of Excellence award winner!
The Performing Arts Department, which includes Instrumental Music (Cooper Neil), Vocal Music (Susan Laushman), Theatre (Caitie Almond and Chuck Boyles), and Debate/Forensics (Julie Laflen), along with PHS administrators, will be recognized publicly with a plaque from KSHSAA at halftime of the PHS Homecoming football game on Oct. 1.
KSHSAA officials Bill Faflick, executive director, and Craig Manteuffel, assistant executive director of fine arts and spirit, shared the news with the Performing Arts Department in an assembly at the school during first hour.
"I couldn’t be more proud of our students, staff, and community for this tremendous recognition. Pittsburg has a reputation of excellence and has always supported the arts. What an incredible honor!" said PHS Activities Director Jeff Staley following the announcement.
The selection committee that chose PHS as a School of Excellence represented Kansas Music Educators Association, Kansas Speech Communication Association, and the Kansas Thespians. Leaders from those associations, along with the KSHSAA staff, collaborated to discuss numerous high schools that scored exceptionally high in debate, speech, music, and theater during the 2020-21 school year.
The committee and KSHSAA chose one winner, five finalists, and 30 commended schools from across our great state. All 36 schools will be recognized with a certificate from the KSHSAA in September.
Full KSHSAA release: https://www.kshsaa.org/Public/pdf/PerformingArtsAward21.pdf
Congrats to those who were cast in the first show of the 2021-22 PHS season, and a shout-out to everyone who auditioned — it takes courage. The show will be directed by Ms. Caitie Almond and will be produced in the PHS Auditorium Oct. 7-9!
Music Theatre Wichita canceled this year’s Jester Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes achievement in high school musical theater, due to the pandemic. However, Theatre Kansas stepped up with a replacement statewide recognition with categories very similar to the Jesters.
Out of 21 award categories, PHS Theatre was nominated for 12 awards. Winners will be announced in a ceremony on June 11 that will be both virtual and in person in Sterling, Kansas.
The nominations PHS received were all for work on “Spamalot,” the all-school musical produced March 5-7. The 12 categories are as follows:
Direction of Show: Jason Huffman
Leading Actor: Xavier Huffman (King Arthur)
Supporting Actor: Dallas Cox (Patsy)
Small Ensemble: Mallory Womeldorff, Ella Rhuems, Regan Carlson, Sophie Casper, Aunyx Estes (Laker Dancers)
Orchestra Direction: Cooper Neil
Vocal Music Direction: Susan Laushman
Choreography/Staging: Maggie & Mollie Stephens
Lighting Design: Gavin Steier
Sound Design: Ashleigh Henderson
“I am so very proud of these students and all of their hard work,” said Jason Huffman, who was hired as a long-term substitute for PHS Theatre for 2020-21. “I will miss them greatly.”
Join us in honoring the life and achievements of the late PHS Theatre teacher Greg Shaw, who lost his battle with brain cancer in December 2020. “Greg’s Curtain Call” will be held at 2 p.m. on May 22 in the PHS Auditorium. Can't make it in person? Watch it livestreamed at https://youtu.be/9FAf4zK2tRU
Family, friends, former students, and classmates of Greg’s are invited to be part of the event either in person or by video, letter, etc. Please contact his widow, Angie, at kushaw2021 (at) gmail.com.
One of Greg’s favorite musicals and one of his greatest directing “tours de force” is West Side Story, and Angie hopes to to have a virtual choir perform “Somewhere.” Anyone who is interested in recording a video, please let her know of your interest and she’ll provide the music, background tracks, and instructions.
Angie asks that you consider getting vaccinated before May 22. Precautions also will be taken to ensure those attending are as safe as possible. A livestream will be offered and details will be shared in coming weeks.
On May 2, PHS Theatre will hold “Closing Bow Cabaret” as a fundraiser for eight students who qualified at the State Thespian Festival to compete at the International Thespian Festival this summer.
The event will be held at 4 p.m. in the PHS Auditorium; there is no entrance fee, but donations will be accepted.
Musical theater numbers will be performed by qualifying students, which include Ella Rheums, Kate Thueson, Tate Campbell, Annabella Beachner, Sophie Casper, Mallory Wombeldorff, Xavier Huffman, and Keller Erwin.
Also performing will be Ethan McConnell, Emma Noonoo, Christopher Saman, Dallas Cox, Maddy Shawn, Gunner Mengarelli, Aunyx Estes, and Ben Shawn.
Following their performances, Thespian Troupe 3149 will hold its end-of-the-year awards and induction ceremony.
How many times in a day do people ask us how we’re doing and our simple response is “fine,” but deep down, we’re really not?
In Pittsburg High School’s next social issue play, “Fine,” audiences are introduced to Jack, a popular young man who repeatedly says he’s fine, but crumbles when it all becomes too much. His friends are left in a quandary. Were there signs that he needed help? Was there more they could have done? Through a series of “restarts,” Jack’s friends give themselves permission to learn and do better, but without any blame or shame.
The premier performance of the show, written by award-winning playwright Page Petrucka, will be produced at 7 p.m. April 21 by PHS Rep Theatre under the direction of Jason Huffman. Seating will be limited, and there will be a free streaming option, as well, at https://vimeo.com/event/908311.
Social issue plays were started in 2008 by PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw, who died last December, as a way of bringing to life issues with which teens and adults often struggle. In these original productions, a prince doesn’t ride off into the sunset with a princess, but rather, the storyline focuses on a topic that can be uncomfortable.
Each spring — except for last spring, which was interrupted by the pandemic — students work closely with a playwright to create an original script and then perform the show for area schools and the public. Topics have included bullying, dating violence, prescription drug use, suicide, and more. Talkback sessions have been included to allow audience members to engage.
The plays have supported the goal of PHS to improve the school climate by helping students make safer and healthier choices and fostering engagement. Shaw was recognized for the plays with the KNEA Human and Civil Rights Award and Character Education Partnership's National Award for Promising Practices.
“We’re starting a conversation," Shaw once said of the project. "That’s the whole objective of the entire thing. We just want to elicit a response.”
In “Fine,” the cast includes:
Jack - Xavier Huffman
Avery - Mallory Womeldorff
Heather - Ella Rhuems
Guy - Ethan McConnell
Sarah - Annabella Beachner
Hope - Aunyx Estes
Ryan - Declan Ortiz
Chance - Bryson Brown
Patrick - Dallas Cox
Travis - Keller Erwin
Scott - Ben Shawn
Dakota - Tate Campbell
Ms. H - Emma Noonoo
Ms. S - Dana Shoemaker
Ms. Reagan/Mom - Regan Carlson
Petrucka is the acting and playwriting professor with Independence Community College. She received her PhD in Fine Arts from Texas Tech University and her Master's from Utah State University. She is an actress of the stage and screen, and has performed nationally and internationally. Much of her film work can be seen during the Christmas season on both the Lifetime and Hallmark channels.
Petrucka also is an accomplished playwright, with two of her plays currently being published by Next Stage Press. She recently received a Certificate of Merit in playwriting from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Her 10-minute plays have won multiple awards and her play Return to Roswell won the Texas Educational Theatre Association playwriting award in 2013.
PITTSBURG — Pittsburg High School Theatre is producing the annual all-school musical, "Spamalot," March 5-7. Performances will be at 7 p.m. March 5-6, and at 2 p.m. on March 6-7, with limited in-person seating (125 people per show) as well as a livestream option for viewers to watch from home.
Tickets may only be purchased online at phsdragons.booktix.com, or at the door an hour before each show — they will not be sold at the school in advance. Ticket sales for the livestream option stop 30 minutes before each performance.
The show, a 2005 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, is a comedy "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
The plot: King Arthur is traveling around England recruiting his Knights of the Round Table. When he and his band of misfit knights finally gather in Camelot, they receive a charge from God to find the Holy Grail. The quest brings King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to strange places and into the company of strange characters, challenging them to keep their heads on straight or die terribly weird deaths.
Set construction, lighting and sound, music, makeup design, and many other elements of the show have been created over the past few months by students.
“Everyone has worked very hard and overcome extra challenges this year, what with the pandemic and the loss of longtime theater director Greg Shaw, and I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished,” said Director Jason Huffman. “I hope everyone buys a ticket to support students and the arts, and to enjoy this very entertaining show.”
Music Director is Susan Laushman, Technical Director is Chuck Boyles, Pit Band Director is Cooper Neil, and Choreography Direction is by Maggie and Mollie Stephens. Details: www.pittsburghighschooltheatre.org
Tickets for the all-school musical, "Spamalot," will go on sale to the public at 8 a.m. on Feb. 15!
As has been tradition, tickets for parents of cast, crew, and band members go on sale a week earlier, at 8 a.m. on Feb. 8. [Director Jason Huffman will be providing access codes for those folks.]
Please note: the show is limited to 125 in-person audience members in the auditorium for each performance to align with COVID-19 safety protocol. Ticket-buyers may opt to watch virtually from home by livestream.
Students (under 18): $6
Senior (65+): $9.25
Individual stream: $12.50
Family stream pass: $28
Director Jason Huffman has announced the cast list for the spring all-school musical, "Spamalot." The show won the 2005 Tony Award for best musical and is best described as "lovingly ripped off" from the 1975 cult classic film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
King Arthur is traveling around England recruiting his Knights of the Round Table. When he and his band of misfit knights finally gather in Camelot, they receive a charge from God to find the Holy Grail. The quest brings King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table to strange places and into the company of strange characters, challenging them to keep their heads on straight or die terribly weird deaths.
And now, the cast list:
Mr. Huffman asks that students use this link to accept or decline their roles:
Scripts can be picked up in Mr. Huffman's room on Friday.
Thanks to everyone who auditioned!
Longtime PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw, 51, of Pittsburg, died at home surrounded by his family on Dec. 12, 2020, after a year-long fight against Glioblastoma — an aggressive, malignant form of brain cancer.
He was born on Feb. 17, 1969, to Janet and Dean Shaw in Springfield, Missouri. He attended Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas, and began his lifelong love of theater. Competitive by nature, he also was active in sports during high school and his early adult years as an athlete and a coach, and was an avid Kansas Jayhawk fan.
He married Angela Casey Shaw on Oct. 11, 1997, in Hutchinson, Kansas; they met in Lawrence at KU while performing in Rock Chalk Revue in 1989. He was the director, Angie was cast as the leading female. The ultimate theater relationship, it was the beginning of a life-long love.
Anyone who knew Shaw knows that he “grew up in the restaurant business.” His parents owned and ran Blazers Restaurant, home of the infamous Blazer Burger, in Gardner. While Angie was in residency in Chicago, he was general manager of Govnor’s Pub. They moved back to Gardner while Angie finished her residency at KU Med and Greg took over running the family business.
Though he attended the University of Kansas and was a lifelong Jayhawk supporter, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Management and Human Relations from MidAmerica Nazarene University in 1999 and a master’s degree in education/communications/theater from Pittsburg State University in 2006.
Shaw and his family are true Jayhawk Basketball fans, and he traveled across the U.S. to watch his beloved Jayhawks. He also was an avid KC Royals and Chiefs fan.
In 2007, he was hired as the theater director/teacher at Pittsburg High School and during his 13-year career there would produce an astounding 65 shows with his students and colleagues, Susan Laushman, Cooper Neil, Chuck Boyles and Denise Williams, including 25 shows in which he directed his daughter, McKenna. This team also founded the Musical and Repertory Theatre classes at PHS.
PHS Theatre earned invitations to perform on the main stage at the Kansas State Thespian Festival and the International Thespian Festival a combined five times (“Crimes of the Heart,” “Band Geeks,” “Urinetown,” “Dog Sees God,” “Pippin”) and Shaw was part of the directing team for the Kansas State Thespian production of “Bring It On” that performed at state and Internationals. Since 2016, PHS Theatre earned more than 40 Jester Awards from Music Theatre Wichita, including Best Direction of Show for “Shrek,” “Seussical,” and “Little Mermaid.”
Shaw created a social issue plays program at PHS with themes that youth face every day, including teen suicide, school violence, eating disorders, and more, helping PHS to earn both state and national recognition as the Kansas NEA Human and Civil Rights Award and as a Promising Practices by the Character Education Partnership. He also was named educator of the year on several occasions.
He collaborated with Mt. Carmel Foundation to create the “Breakfast With Santa” program as a free gift to local families each December, featuring freshmen and sophomore cast and crew as a way to help them gain experience.
Shaw also founded the Just Off Broadway summer theatre workshop program at Memorial Auditorium, in which he directed a cast and crew of middle school-aged youth from schools throughout the area in the junior version of musicals such as “High School Musical,” “All Shook Up,” “Legally Blonde,” and “Lion King.”
Many graduates of his program have gone on to higher education in the performing arts and careers in related fields, of which he was very proud.
He served on the Kansas Thespians Board of Directors, and each January since 2015 took one of the largest groups of student thespians from across the state to the state festival.
He also directed numerous shows in the Kansas City area, including Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park and Faust Theatre, and for Pittsburg Community Theatre at Memorial Auditorium. While at TTIP, he helped to found the TTIP Troupe, a group of high school-aged performers and technical staff which helped to launch the careers of numerous Kansas City based performers. He went on to direct more than 15 productions and was nominated for and won several Demi Awards.
In 2017, he was named a finalist for the Tony Awards Excellence in Theatre Education Award and was nominated again in 2020 prior to the shutdown of Broadway and postponement of the Tony Awards.
In December 2019, just a few weeks after he produced “Pippin” in Pittsburg, he underwent brain surgery and was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. In January 2020, he still made the trip to the Thespian Festival in Wichita to direct “Pippin” on the main stage to an audience of 2,000.
He continued to teach and direct as long as he was able, including co-directing the all-school musical “Freaky Friday” in February 2020 with Jason Huffman while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.
In June 2020, he earned the International Thespian Society’s “Spirit of Thespis Award” and this fall was named a 2021 inductee to the Kansas Thespians Hall of Fame — an honor given to individuals who strive for excellence in theatre education, who go above and beyond expectations in developing a theatre program of excellence, and who have impacted Kansas Thespians in significant ways.
He is survived by his wife, Dr. Angela Shaw, and two daughters, McKenna and Marley, of Pittsburg; his parents, Janet and Dean of Peoria, Arizona; his brother, Christopher (Kendra) of Ponte Vedra, Florida; his sister, Jana Shaw Fevurly (John) of Scottsdale, Arizona; 11 nieces and nephews; and hundreds of former students.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Shaw chose cremation with a private family ceremony. There will be a Celebration of Life at a later, safer date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations for the USD 250 Foundation (a scholarship in his honor will be established) or for Shawnee Mission Theatre in the Park. These may be sent to or left at Bath-Naylor Funeral Home, 522 S Broadway St., Pittsburg, KS, 66762.
Applause, applause, applause, applause. Blackout.