Twelve Pittsburg High School Theatre students have qualified to perform at the national level after winning accolades at the state level in Wichita.
For the first time, PHS competed in the One-Act Play category at the Kansas Thespian Festival, a state-wide event held in Wichita Jan. 3-5.
The show, “Dog Sees God,” was directed by junior McKenna Shaw and acted by eight students: Julian Archuleta, Franchesca Brownhanney, Hannah Casper, Griffin Cooper, Aidan Harries, Jazmin Havens, Maddy Shawn, and Dominic Stefanoni. The play reimagines characters from the popular comic strip Peanuts as degenerate teens and covers issues like drug use, suicide, eating disorders, rebellion, and sexual identity, and packs an emotional punch.
Their first-place win qualifies them to perform at the International Thespian Festival, held each June at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska.
Additionally, sophomore Sarah Stebbins qualified to perform in the National Individual Event Showcase at the ITF by earning three “Superior” scores on her musical theatre vocal audition.
And, three students — Gabe Anderson, Emma NooNoo, and McKenna Shaw — were part of the cast of the Kansas All-State Show, “Bring It On,” which was chosen to be performed at the ITF. Shaw was in the lead female role, while Anderson was in the ensemble and NooNoo served on the technical crew.
PHS Theatre Director Greg Shaw was production manager for the show, and Jason Huffman, technical director at Memorial Auditorium who has been a frequent contributor to PHS shows, served as sound director.
This is the second year in a row that PHS has qualified in Individual Events and a performance at the ITF; last year, “Urinetown,” the musical, earned the right to perform at the ITF after having been chosen as a main stage production at State.
Fundraising efforts led by Friends of PHS Performing Arts raised money to send all 50 cast, crew, and band members to Lincoln to perform at the week-long festival, which attracts several thousand students from the 4,700 schools that have chapters of the International Thespian Society.
Fundraising efforts will begin soon to send the 12 PHS students chosen for the honor this year.
“It’s thrilling that our students will once again represent the very best work in high school theatre across the country,” said Greg Shaw. “In the one-act competition, for it to be our first time to enter and for us to have won with it being 100-percent student-driven is phenomenal. Having three of our students representing Pittsburg in the All-State Show, as part of nearly 50 students from 24 districts across the state, is something we can all be proud of, as is having a sophomore qualify in an I.E.”
“This program is now consistently qualifying students at the state and national level, and we’re very excited about where our program is headed,” Shaw said.
PHS also earned Gold Troupe recognition at the Kansas Thespian Festival, based on their body of work during the previous year and their community service, and Shaw was named Teacher of the Year for Region 4.