PITTSBURG — The cast of Pittsburg High School Theatre’s “Urinetown” will travel to Wichita in January to perform on the Kansas Thespian Festival main stage.
The fall musical was performed November 17 through 19 at PHS, and was judged by representatives from the festival. The judges selected “Urinetown” to be one of five schools to perform at the festival, hosted annually at the Hyatt Regency Wichita and Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center.
PHS will perform the opening night of the festival on January 4. It will be the third time PHS has performed at the festival, which draws in a crowd of 1,800 high school theatre students and their teachers.
“Obviously it’s a high profile performance,” PHS Director Greg Shaw said. “Being selected to perform certainly reinforces what we teach, and that we have one of the best shows in the state.”
Shaw said it is also a great opportunity for the students to perform for a large crowd of other students.
“It’s an audience of about 1,800, and these are our students’ peers,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents in front of a group that really appreciates what we’re doing, because they’ve put in the same kind of work at their schools.”
Students from PHS have also attended the festival each year to take part in workshops and smaller performances. College recruiters also attend the festival to scout talent for theatre programs at the university level.
The cast of “Urinetown” will have a preparatory show at Memorial Auditorium on January 2 at 7 p.m., which will be open to the public. The show will allow the cast, crew and orchestra to practice putting the show together in a single day, which they will be required to do in Wichita.
The show is accompanied by a live band, comprised of band students under the direction of Cooper Neil. Vocal direction was by Susan Laushman, and tech direction was by Chuck Boyles. As part of their semester-long rehearsals, the cast also completed a master class with Broadway actress Janine DiVita, who once played the lead female role Pennywise.
This year, in addition to PHS, the following schools were chosen: Paola High School with “Celtic Tales,” Newton High School with “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Shawnee Mission West High School with “Fools,” and McPherson High School with “Moon Over Buffalo.”
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.