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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 (ppp utheatre) 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.