Germantown High School senior Maclean Mayers took the stage with some of the best young talent in the country during the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. Mayers, who was named Outstanding Lead Actor at the 2014 Orpheum High School Musical Theatre Awards for his role as Edna Turnblad in the PPP's 2014 production of Hairspray, spent the week leading up to the "Jimmy Awards" training with theatre professionals in New York City. Mayers is part of the GHS Class of 2015.
Bringing Back the PPP Children's Play
April 06, 2018
The Poplar Pike Playhouse is ready to take kids on an “egg-cellent” adventure with the return of the Children’s Theatre. “Chicken Little’s Eggcellent Adventure” is a new take on the classic tale geared specifically towards children. It tells the story of Chicken Little who is trying to fulfill his dreams of being a popstar when an acorn suddenly hits him on the head. Fearing the sky is falling, Chicken Little rushes to gather his bird friends so they can warn the king. Along the way, they meet a new friend who offers the birds protection from the falling sky. However, Foxy Loxy is more sly than Chicken Little and the gang realize. The play is tailored to allow the audience to interact with the characters and help move the plot along. “Theatre is a really special art form because it is a communicative art,” says theatre teacher Jeff White. “There is constant communication between the actors and the audience. For kids to be part of the story, it’s a really invigorating experience for them that turns them on to theatre.
Over the past several months, White has worked with upper level theatre students in playwriting workshops to write the original script suited for children of all ages. Senior Lundell Simmons shares his thoughts on the writing process, “Children’s theatre proved to be very unique to any theatre I’ve ever read before, but it allowed the other writers and I to be really creative. This show was definitely a lot of fun to write, and I think kids will love it.”
“Chicken Little’s Eggcellent Adventure” will have a free public showing on Saturday, April 21st at 3:00pm. If you would like to have the cast of “Chicken Little’s Eggcellent Adventure” visit your elementary school for a private performance, email Jeff White at email@example.com. Bring your family to join Chicken Little and his crew on their great adventure!
The “10-Minute Play Festival”
April 02, 2018
Theatre students at Germantown High School are ready to express their creativity and originality on the Poplar Pike Playhouse stage. Students in the GHS Acting class are in the process of writing, directing, and performing their own 10-minute plays. Acting teacher Jeff White has been assisting his students for the past few weeks on polishing and perfecting their work for the showcase.
Each of the 18 students in the class was given the opportunity to write their own 10-minute play in hopes of it being selected as one of the five plays performed in the showcase. Mr. White chose the best eight plays for the students to read, analyze, and vote for their favorite. The top five plays were then put in the hands of the students to produce. Student playwright, Robert Greene, is humbled his piece was selected by his peers. “It feels like an endorsement of the hard work I put into writing the play. I’m very excited to see how it turns out.”
The preparations began in early February when students began the brainstorming process for their plays. The budding playwrights were given free range and free thought to write. Once the plays were chosen, directors and actors were assigned to bring these pieces to life. “The goal is to give my students the opportunity to build theatre from the ground up and take their own creation and put it on the stage,” says White.
Audience members can expect plays with a wide range of themes and ideas. These five plays range from comedy to drama. “Be prepared for a few touching stories, as well as stories to make you smile”, says acting student Andrew Heady. “You will leave the theatre amazed by the talent and creativity from everyone in this class.”
Aside from the creativity these students are able to express, Mr.White says he is proud to see the impact this exercise has had on the students who are new to this process. He adds, “I hope that this process will develop a future theatre lover.”
The 2018 10-Minute Play Festival is Friday, April 6th at the Poplar Pike Playhouse. The festival will begin promptly at 6:30pm. Admission is free, so anyone is able to come for a great night of acting. Call the PPP Box Office (901) 755-7775 for more information.
“Swing Your Ratings High, Sweeney!”
February 27, 2018
Audiences are raving about Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street playing now at the Poplar Pike Playhouse . Opening night was full of excitement. Friends and family gathered to attend the tale of Sweeney Todd and their reviews lauded the Sondheim production.
“I’ve never seen Sweeney Todd . I knew the story line, but I’d never seen it,” says Stephanie Thomas. “My first experience was amazing. The talent that we have here at Germantown High School is just overwhelming.”
Many of the PPP patrons praised the vocal talent. Diane Morales says, “They have amazing, operatic voices.”
The world-renowned musical follows the story of Sweeney Todd, a barber who was banished from London by Judge Turpin so the judge could pursue Todd’s wife. When Todd returns, he finds Mrs. Lovett, an old acquaintance, and together they hatch a devious plan to get revenge on the judge.
Sweeney Todd is a gruesome story. However, like Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies, the audiences seemed to eat it up. Thomas couldn’t get enough. “I’d say that they’re better than any community theatre company in the city.”
Sweeney Todd is a complex show to produce for both cast and crew. Each aspect of the musical requires immense dedication from everyone involved. Opening night was rewarding for all as audience members expressed their surprise and excitement with the show.
There is still time to get your tickets to see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street . The musical runs through March 10 at the Poplar Pike Playhouse on the campus of Germantown High School. Visit ppp.org, or call PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 for more information. Follow the PPP on Facebook (@poplarpikeplayhouse) or Twitter (@ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes.
A Tale of Revenge and Love set to take the PPP Stage
The Poplar Pike Playhouse’s spring musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is ready to open its doors for opening night. This ominous musical follows the path of a barber, Sweeney Todd, who was sent away to solitude by Judge Turpin for a crime that he did not commit. Todd returns to get his revenge and try to restore the family that was taken away from him. With his partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, his revenge has no bounds.
Audiences may be familiar with the works of famed composer Stephen Sondheim and his popular list of musicals which include Sweeney Todd. While each show is unique, Sweeney Todd is a production full of musical and technical complexities. The set design includes secret doors and compartments that literally set the stage for the sinister spin in Sweeney Todd’s life. “Figuring out the setting of this musical and the ways of Sweeney Todd allow me to attempt to live the life of a character who is the antithesis to who I am,” says Rodney McKinner, who plays Sweeney Todd.
Due to the popularity of the musical, many student actors auditioned for a part in the show. This depth of talent presented the opportunity for a larger ensemble so audiences can expect to see some new faces alongside some familiar ones. “This will be my first time joining the many talented actors and actresses on the Poplar Pike Playhouse stage, and this is truly one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced,” says Kimberly Baldwin.
“Although I had a family in the orchestra pit for the past two years, becoming a cast member in Sweeney Todd has given me a new, incredible family that I’m honored to be a part of,” says Allison Lee.
Director Ashleigh Williams also can’t wait for audiences to see the show that’s in store for them, “This show is different from any other that has hit the PPP stage! The show’s entire dialogue is in song; that and the underlying message of revenge and love make it to a show that the audience will not forget.”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens February 22nd and runs through March 10th. Call the PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or go to ppp.org to reserve your seats today! Follow the PPP on Facebook, Instagram (poplarpikeplayhouse), and Twitter (ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes for our shows.
The Demon Barber of the PPP
February 2, 2018
At first glance, Sweeney Todd appears to be a gruesome show. However, lying just below the surface is a world of forbidden romance, selfless sacrifice, and pure love. Ashleigh Williams, the director of the PPP’s upcoming spring musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, says defending someone you love is the consistent theme throughout the show.
As the show opens, the audience learns that Todd has just escaped from an Australian jail as a result of being wrongly imprisoned by Judge Turpin. The Judge fell in love with Sweeney’s wife, so he sent Todd away to pursue his spouse. If this wasn’t enough, the Judge also takes in Todd’s daughter, Johanna, as his ward and begins to lust after her. It is Todd’s love and longing for his wife and daughter that give him strength to find his way back to London and find the Judge. He seeks justice for his family and for his lost love. Todd’s murderous ambition is justified, and the townspeople eventually find themselves sympathizing with him. Todd, in an odd, offbeat way, is a very relatable character. “Pain and love can make people do crazy things and anyone can experience those emotions, whether the hero or the villain,” says the PPP’s own Sweeney Todd, Rodney McKinner. “This doesn’t make Sweeney the villain, it justs makes him human.” Though the musical is filled with Todd’s revenge, he may be the true victim.
Tickets are on sale now for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The musical runs February 22-March 10 at the Poplar Pike Playhouse on the campus of Germantown High School. Visit ppp.org, or call PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 for more information. Follow the PPP on Facebook (@poplarpikeplayhouse) or Twitter (@ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes.
Sweeney Todd: An Operatic Style Musical
January 25, 2018
Get ready for a musical thriller this February! The Poplar Pike Playhouse is taking audiences into the gritty world of Victorian London in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The Tony award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim is considered his best Broadway show because of its complex musical score. “If you took the dialogue out of this show, the entire story would be told through the music”, explains director Ashleigh Williams, “Sondheim’s score incorporates every character and every component of the plot.”
Sweeney Todd started out as a character in a weekly Victorian literature series. It wasn’t until 1973 that it reached the stage. Stephen Sondheim saw the stage play by Christopher Bond and was inspired to turn it into a musical. He felt that the addition of music would greatly increase the size of the drama, transforming it into a different theatrical experience. Sondheim himself has described this show as a "black operetta", and indeed, only about 20% of the show is spoken. The other 80% is set to music, either sung or orchestrated underneath dialogue.
The musical score is so complex, cast members began rehearsals in December. “Learning the music to this show is not only pivotal to the plot, but is what makes it dynamic.”, says Rachel Christopherson who plays Johanna. “This show is nothing without Sondheim’s one of a kind musical style, so nailing the music is a main priority for this cast.” 32 students make up the cast, and with a musical as big as Sweeney Todd, no voice is too small. “All of the transitions, narrations, and drama are told through the singers. Each cast member plays a vital role in telling this haunting story”, explains musical director, Matthew Hayner.
Producing a music heavy show like Sweeney Todd requires a very unique relationship between the director, music director, conductor, and cast. “There is a strong amount of players working to make sure learning this music and putting on this show is accomplished to the best of its ability, and I am so fortunate to be doing it with my directing team, and the hard-working cast members I have,” says Hayner.
Tickets for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street are on sale now! For more information, call the Poplar Pike Playhouse Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or visit PPP.org. To keep up with the latest news, follow the Playhouse on Facebook, Instagram (@poplarpikeplayhouse), or Twitter (@ppptheatre).
The Poplar Pike Playhouse is the theatre complex located on the campus of Germantown High School.
Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd
January 11, 2018
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will make its debut on the Poplar Pike Playhouse stage in February. This musical won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, when it debuted on Broadway in 1979. For nearly 40 years, Sweeney Todd has been produced all around the world, has migrated through the world’s leading opera houses and has been adapted to a film directed by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp. Written by Stephen Sondheim, a name synonymous with musical theatre success, Sweeney Todd makes a significant theatrical impact through its powerful music and larger-than-life characters.
The musical theatre favorite follows the story of Benjamin Barker (also known as Sweeney Todd) who was imprisoned by lascivious Judge Turpin for a crime he did not commit. He returns fifteen years later for retribution and restoration. He befriends a hapless meat-pie baker, Mrs. Lovett, and together they work to exact his revenge and to make her rich.
Ashleigh Williams returns as director of this Poplar Pike Playhouse production. “On the surface, Sweeney Todd is the story of revenge, but there are undercurrents of so much more. This is the story of longing to fit in and acceptance, love and loss, and hope and despair. Technically, this show is a challenge for our student cast and crew and I feel they are up to that challenge.”
Rehearsals have already begun. Those who have seen Sweeney Todd before know that seeing and hearing this work with a full chorus and orchestra, and sung by great lyric voices, can be a truly unforgettable theatre experience. For those who have not seen the show, this is definitely one to make plans to see.
The cast of Sweeney Todd includes: Amber Allen, Kimberly Baldwin, Hayden Belue, Kyle Bowers, Rachel Christopherson, Erica Crosby, Abigail Davis, Breuna Dickerson, Antonio Johnson-Farrar, Kaleb Frieson, Kadiatu Gassama, Cecilia Hartney, Andrew Heady, DanE Henderson, Tate Jakobi, C.J. Jamerson, Reyna Katko, Elanis Kelley, Jahvon Key, Mackenzie Kuykendoll, Alanna Lee, Allison Lee, Rodney McKinner, Avery Moore, Alexa Morris, Christian Powell, Lundell Simmons, Scarlett Simpson, CJ Thomas, Xavion Thomas, Alan Toney, and Sophie Willis. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street will be directed by Ashleigh Williams. Associate director is Jeff White. Musical director is Matthew Hayner. Technical director is Catie Ward. John Hagan is the conductor.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens at the Poplar Pike Playhouse on February 22 and will run through March 10. Call the PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or go to ppp.org to get more information! Follow the PPP on Facebook, Instagram (poplarpikeplayhouse), and Twitter (ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes for our shows.
The Poplar Pike Playhouse is the theatre complex located on the campus of Germantown High School. The corporate sponsor is Landmark Community Bank.
Audiences Hit with Slapstick Comedy at the PPP
October 27, 2017
Last weekend, audiences burst into laughter during the Poplar Pike Playhouse’s slapstick comedy Is He Dead? The play, by Mark Twain and later adapted by David Ives, centers around a fictitious tale of the hapless French painter Jean-Francois Millet. Struggling to make ends meet in 19th century Paris, Millet discovers the key to his survival is ironically death. Millet’s inner circle urges him to fake his death and mask his identity in order for all of them to benefit from the “late” Millet’s fame, riches, and critical acclaim.
On opening night, Playhouse patrons raved about the humor of the show. “The show was absolutely hilarious and thoroughly entertaining,” claimed friend of the Playhouse Stephanie Thomas.
During the production, Millet’s three friends, Chicago, Dutchy, and O’Shaughnessy, capture the witty early 20th century technique made famous by the original kings of comedy. “I felt like the three friends, Dutchy, Chicago, and O’Shaughnessy, symbolize the slapstick from the Three Stooges,” said director Jeff White, “and I wanted to pay homage to that joyous era of comedy.”
“Those three stooges characters made me feel like I was the ‘30s,” said long time Playhouse supporter Diane Morales, “Each brought his own swing of slapstick that drove the plot all night!”
The cast of characters is not the only thing of note in the performance. The costumes, both nostalgic and evocative, as well as the sound effects add to Twain’s vision for an accepted, yet unbelievable life of the artist. “It was very apparent that Mark Twain wanted us to realize we are all the same no matter what clothes we put on,” mentioned audience member Barbara Edwards. “Twain’s cultural message is for all of us; we should not judge each other...respect everyone!”
Morales added, “Run! Don’t walk to get your tickets! These actors really hit the nail the head with expressing each character’s own comedic talent and everyone should see it before it ends.”
Does Millet ultimately find happiness in death through fortune and fame or is he happier living a life of debt? Swing by the PPP to find out! Is He Dead? runs through November 4. Tickets can be purchased at PPP.org or through the Poplar Pike Playhouse’s Box Office at (901) 755-7775. Tickets can be reserved two days in advance and receive a discount with the use of promo codes on the PPP’s daily updated social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat). The Poplar Pike Playhouse is located on the campus of Germantown High School.
Is He Dead? is Ready for Opening Night!
October 24, 2017
The curtain is ready to rise on Is He Dead? the Poplar Pike Playhouse’s fall play. The comedy, written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, opens Thursday, October 26th. From backstage to onstage, the students are all been working diligently in anticipation of opening night. The play tells the fictional version of the real life painter, Jean-Francois Millet, who is in debt to an evil picture-dealer. With his friends’ help, he hatches a plan to fake his death to pay off his debt, believing painters find greater success selling their work posthumously. The plan could work, only if Millet can keep up his disguise as his twin sister, the Widow Tillou.
Senior Kyle Bowers, who plays Millet, looks forward to opening night, “The thing I’m most excited about is to have an audience. It’s one thing to hear people react in rehearsal, but I look forward to the energy of an actual audience.”
While the actors have spent hours of rehearsal preparing their performance, the props crew, makeup crew, costume crew, and set construction crew have been working alongside them to prepare every detail. “Costuming the show has definitely been a fun challenge,” says costume chairman, Avery Moore. “We’ve had a lot of people working to get it done; it’s been a great experience.”
Jeff White, Germantown High School’s new theatre director, is also excited about this show because the community will get to see the talented students’ hard work. “This is going to be a real special show for me because it's my first year being back at the PPP. I’m really excited not only for the cast, but also for the audience to see this amazingly funny show.”
The Poplar Pike Playhouse’s cast and crew can’t wait to open the curtains and share this hilarious play with the public. This comedy is definitely something that you will not want to miss. Is He Dead? runs from October 26th - November 4th. Call the PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or go to ppp.org to reserve your seats today! Follow the PPP on Facebook, Instagram (poplarpikeplayhouse), and Twitter (ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes for our shows.
Art in the Making!
October 06, 2017
The students of Poplar Pike Playhouse are hard at work preparing for this season’s fall play, Is He Dead? The satirical comedy, written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, follows the fictional version of the great french painter Jean Francois Millet. Millet is strugglingto sell his paintings and pay back a cynical art dealer. Comedy ensues when he goes to great lengths for fame and fortune.
While the cast rehearses each week, just as much preparation is happening off stage. Technical crews are in full swing as costumes are sewn, sets are built, and so much more!
“Attire in this era was very, very elaborate,” says costume designer Eula Ashbee. Is He Dead? calls for clothes from the late 1800’s, meaning the costumes, especially dresses, can be rather ornate. “The era itself has proven to be a challenge, but a fun one where the costume crew can be creative in making the details.”
Master Carpenter Jason Harris has been hard at work with his crew as they built the set over the past couple of weeks. “The set is like a puzzle that we have to put together,” he says. “The only difference is that we have to build the puzzle pieces as well. So, as set builders, we have to pay careful attention to every element.”
The Poplar Pike Playhouse props crew is also getting creative in meeting certain challenges, according to props chairman Christian Powell. “Many of the props we need for the show we have to make from scratch because they’re so unique.” The crew is using special techniques to make the props look time appropriate. “It’s really great to see the final product, knowing that we created it.”
While initially working separately, all the departments are starting to work together as tech week approaches. From the details on the poster to the color of a wig, ideas are coming to fruition. Slowly but surely, all of these moving parts are finding the way onto the newly renovated Poplar Pike Playhouse stage, and Is He Dead? is almost ready for an audience.
Is He Dead? runs October 26 through November 4. Tickets are on sale now at the Poplar Pike Playhouse! Call the Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or visit PPP.org.. Adult tickets are $15.00 and student tickets are $12.00. To keep up with the latest news, follow the Playhouse on Facebook, Instagram (@poplarpikeplahouse), or Twitter (@ppptheatre).
The Poplar Pike Playhouse is the theatre complex located on the campus of Germantown High School.
PPP Takes On “Dead-Pan” Humor
October 03, 2017
Is He Dead? is the latest production to hit the Poplar Pike Playhouse. The play, originally written by Mark Twain and adapted by David Ives, tackles the outrageously ridiculous yet satirical humor of the life of a painter.
The play introduces us to Jean-Francois Millet, an actual French painter, who finds himself in situations full of hijinks and misunderstandings. “For part of the play, I am a woman. This is a lot harder than I initially thought,” says actor Kyle Bowers. “There are a lot of feminine mannerisms I wasn’t aware of and ladies shoes are not comfortable.” While this mistaken identity is comical, the additional cast of wacky characters, absurd situations, and jokes galore promises that audiences will certainly “die” laughing.
The style of Is He Dead? pokes fun at the seriousness of melodramatic, classic theatre. While the show may not be well-known, the topic, main character, and type of humor are entertaining and widely appreciated. “I think that the characters in Is He Dead? lend themselves to the old vaudeville style of classic villain, damsel in distress, and of course the classic slapstick a la the Three Stooges,” says Jeff White, the play’s director. The over-dramatic personalities of old Vaudeville characters turn into comedic material on the PPP stage, with each of the show’s wild characters representing a certain stereotype. There are quite frequent direct references to the physicality of entertainers like Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton. Though this show has no music, the excessive physical comedy requires coordinated choreography to achieve the perfect timing. “Physical comedy is very unique,” says actor Andrew Heady. “It keeps me on my feet the entire time I’m on stage.” This tried and true style of comedy with a modern twist is sure to be a side-splitting hit as the PPP races toward opening night.
Tickets for Is He Dead? are on sale now! The show runs October 26- November 4 at the Poplar Pike Playhouse. Visit ppp.org, or call PPP Box Office at (901) 755-7775 for more information. Follow the PPP on Facebook (@poplarpikeplayhouse) or Twitter (@ppptheatre) for updates and special coupon codes.