PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg High School Theatre Department is giving a nod to the classic Midwest family road trip for its first production of the school year.

“Leaving Iowa” follows the story of Don Browning — played by Dominic Stefanoni — as he remembers a past filled with family trips. The comedy is full of ups, downs and plenty of fascinating people along the way.

“The play has its roots in the family road trip — going to Branson or the Ozarks,” Director Greg Shaw said. “Even though the family road trip is not as popular anymore, I think this show will really resonate with the parents, and have enough comedy to keep younger viewers interested.”

Throughout the performance, Don and his family meet several zany characters at shopping malls, fruit stands and roadside attractions. The interactions feel humorously familiar to anyone who’s travelled with family.

The comedy aspect of the show also drew it to Shaw’s attention.

“I wanted to do a comedy this year, and we have the students to do it,” he said. “Comedy is really difficult to do effectively — even more so than drama I think — but we have a really strong line up.”

The play is also fairly new and has become very popular for high school programs, according to Shaw. He said new plays are a good way to help actors develop.

“I like productions where there isn’t a bunch of material already on Youtube,” Shaw said. “The students have to develop these characters based on their own thoughts and interpretations, which involves them more in the craft of acting.”

“Leaving Iowa” will also include a chance for younger actors to show their chops. The four main characters — Don and his family — will remain the same for each showing, but the other characters are performed by sophomores, juniors and seniors for three shows and an all freshman cast for one.

The freshman cast will perform during a 2 p.m. matinee showing Saturday.

“I have about 10 freshman that will play the roles of people the family meets along the way for our 2 p.m. show Saturday,” Shaw said. “It’s the best way I’ve found to develop young actors, and we get to see them bring their own interpretations to the stage.”

Performances take place Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday. All performances are at Pittsburg High School. Tickets are $5 for students, $7 for adults and can be purchased at the door.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.