Coming up NXT: Totem Pole Playhouse to roll out summer series
FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. — Totem Pole Playhouse, America’s summer theater, located in Caledonia State Park between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, Pa., has announced a major change in its programming format starting this summer. Beginning May 31 through Sept. 8, a new 5-show summer subscription series will be offered.
The new format will allow Totem Pole the opportunity to present large cast musical productions from the nationally-recognized theatrical production company, Theatre A Go-Go, Inc. in addition to offerings from other successful producing organizations. Theatre A Go-Go produced the sold-out production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at The Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pa., last March as a fundraiser for the summer theater.
“This new format will allow us to continue to produce the high-quality, professional productions our patrons have become accustomed to over the past 69 years, while offering Totem Pole with the opportunity to present even larger productions in the summer,” said Totem Pole Producing Artistic Director Rowan Joseph.
In addition to the new 5-show offering, there will be several “Friday Fun Nights” throughout the summer which will include family movie night sing-alongs, complete with picnic dinners and solo shows featuring performers from Broadway and TV.
“This business model will also allow us to present productions throughout the year, not just in the summer months, at other area venues. We are currently working on plans to present productions in the future at The Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center in Shippensburg, the Carlisle Theatre in Carlisle and The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown,” said Joseph. He also explained that while there are ongoing plans to add new women’s bathroom facilities, a gift shop and a water garden to the grounds at Totem Pole Playhouse, there are no plans to add heat to the legendary venue itself.
Opening the new summer subscription series will be Totem Pole Playhouse’s production of the comedy whodunit, “Shear Madness.” The play has the distinction of being one of the longest-running stage comedies in the world. The original production has been running at the Charles Playhouse in Boston, Mass., since Jan. 29, 1980 and a second production has been playing in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts since August of 1987.
Totem Pole audience favorite, Shane Partlow, who recently appeared in this year’s Oscar-winning Best Picture, “Green Book,” plays the operator of a local Chambersburg, Pa. beauty salon where the murder takes place. The production will feature many humorous references to Franklin and Adams county-area attractions.
Zack Powell, who has appeared regularly in the Kennedy Center production will reprise his role of Mikey, the young detective, and Craig Benton, a veteran of the Kansas City production, will play the lead detective, Nick Rossetti, who leads the audience in solving the murder mystery. Rounding out the suspects are Lisa McMillian from the show’s national tour, reprising her role as socialite Mrs. Shubert, and New York actors, MaryAnne Piccolo and Christian Cardoza as the other stylist in the salon and a handsome antiques dealer. The audience joins in the fun by voting at every performance on who the murderer is with the cast, then performing a particular ending, which can change from one performance to the next. The production is directed by Joseph.
The hugely popular bluegrass gospel musical, “Smoke on the Mountain,” returns to the stage of the legendary summer theater produced by Theatre A Go-Go, Inc. The ensemble production will star Madison Hagler from last year’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Allison Rose Munn from Mamma Mia!; along with New York actors Caleb Adams, Julia Hoffman, Malka Wallick and Michael Amoroso. Completing the cast and making his Totem Pole stage debut will be local physician, Kenneth Griggs, a medical specialist in diagnostic radiology with Summit Health in Chambersburg. Dr. Griggs performed professionally for many years before entering the medical profession and he continues to act whenever his busy schedule allows.
The third offering in the series will be Totem Pole’s production of the critically-acclaimed Broadway play “Souvenir,” the stage version of Meryl Streep’s 2017 Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated movie “Florence Forster Jenkins.” Voice teacher to Broadway stars and beloved Cincinnati Conservatory of Music Professor, Patricia Linhart, will take on the role of the delusional diva. She will be teamed with veteran Broadway actor, Bob Walton.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the Tony Award-winning musical, will take to the stage as the fourth offering in the Playhouse’s new subscription series. Veteran performer Miranda Jane stars as Miss Mona Stangley, the proprietress of the legendary “chicken ranch” operating outside Gilbert, Texas. Kristopher Holtz, plays the local sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd, who watches over Miss Mona and her girls. J.R. Stuart, who played the larger than life producer in Totem Pole’s 2017 production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” returns as Melvin P. Thorpe, the crusading television reporter (played by Dom DeLuise in the movie) who decides to make the illegal activity an issue causing the legendary place to be closed down after more than a 100 years of operation.
Closing out the series will be Totem Pole Playhouse’s production of “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” written by Lowell Ganz and legendary Hollywood director Garry Marshall, who has directed cinema classics such as “Pretty Woman,” “Beaches,” “Runaway Bride” and “The Princess Diaries” and the hit 1970’s TV sitcoms, The Odd Couple, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy.
For more information on tickets and subscriptions, contact the Totem Pole Playhouse box office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 717-352-2164.