Sponsored by the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, Totem Pole Playhouse, Pennsylvania’s premiere summer theatre, located in Caledonia State Park between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, PA, announced a summer season featuring the stage version of a Best Picture Academy Award-winning movie, two Tony Award-winning musicals, and a celebration of America’s most beloved composer, for the theatre’s 67th summer season. The season will close with an intimate, two-person play on stage for one week only starring a legendary TV couple from a classic hit of the late 80s.
Driving Miss Daisy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play which went on to win nine Academy Awards including the Oscar for Best Picture, will open the subscription season. The play delicately depicts racial tensions, the passage of time, and the experience of aging. Set in mid-century Atlanta, Driving Miss Daisy tells the story of Daisy Werthan and her chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn. At first, Daisy is none too happy when she has to rely on a black man to get her from one place to the next. However, Hoke gradually wins her over, and during the 25-year span of the play, the two develop a deep-rooted affection. Four time Emmy Award-winning actress Michael Learned, best known for her role as ‘Olivia (Ma) Walton’ on classic family television series “The Waltons,” will star as elderly Jewish matron Daisy Werthan. Lance E. Nichols, who starred for four seasons in the critically-acclaimed HBO series, “Treme,” as well as numerous other TV show and movies, will play opposite Ms. Learned. Totem Pole favorite and Greencastle resident, Paris Peet, will play Boolie Werthan, Daisy’s son. Michael Bloom, former Artistic Director of the Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first regional theatre, and director of last season’s Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, will return to direct the production. Sponsored by F&M Trust, Driving Miss Daisy runs from May 26 through June 11.
Winner of five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Original Score, the new musical The Drowsy Chaperone is the second show of Totem Pole Playhouse’s 2017 season. The large cast musical is a loving send-up of the Jazz Age featuring one show-stopping song and dance number after another. With the houselights down, a man in a chair appears on stage and puts on his favorite record: the cast recording of a fictitious 1928 musical. The recording comes to life and The Drowsy Chaperone begins as the man in the chair looks on. Mix in two lovers on the eve of their wedding, a bumbling best man, a desperate theatre producer, a not-so-bright hostess, two gangsters posing as pastry chefs, and an intoxicated chaperone, and you have the ingredients for an evening of madcap delight. Long-time Totem Pole Musical Director Darren Server will appear on stage as the man in the chair. Ryan Gibbs, former Artistic Director of the Allenberry Playhouse, will direct this production, and Christine O’Grady, director and choreographer of last season’s Forever Plaid, will provide choreography. Sponsored in part by Walker, Connor & Spang, LLC, the musical is on stage June 16 through July 2.
The third show of Totem Pole’s four-show season is I Love a Piano, a celebration of the music of one of the most prolific and popular songwriters of the 20th century, Irving Berlin. The musical follows the journey of a piano as it moves in and out of American lives from the turn of the century to the present. Along the way, the story comes to vibrant life with over sixty of Irving Berlin’s most beloved songs, including classics such as “Blue Skies,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Puttin’ on The Ritz,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “Always,” “How Deep is the Ocean,” “Anything You Can Do,” “God Bless America,” and of course, “I Love a Piano.” Alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, rousing and reflective, I Love a Piano is a fitting tribute to the man Jerome Kern famously said had “no place in American music – he is American music.” Long time Totem Pole stager, David Hemsley Caldwell, who directed last season’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, will direct and choreograph the production. Broadway veteran and Totem Pole alum, Jane Labanz, who last appeared in Totem Pole’s production of The Nerd directed by Caldwell, will be featured in the cast. The musical runs through July 7 to July 23.
Rounding out the four-show subscription season, the playhouse welcomes back the director and star of Totem Pole’s box office record-breaking production of Ring of Fire, Jason Edwards, to direct the new smash-hit musical Million Dollar Quartet. Inspired by the famed recording session that brought together Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley for the first and only time, the musical is set on December 4 in 1956. In what was one of the greatest jam sessions ever, Million Dollar Quartet brings that December night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal, and celebrations that is both poignant and funny. Relive the era with an incredible score of rock’n’roll, gospel, R&B and country hits, performed live onstage. Showcased hit songs will include “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Walk the Line,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On,” “Hound Dog,” and more. Due to the large number of group sales, Totem Pole Theatre has extended the production an additional week, with many of performances already close to being sold-out. This unforgettable show, sponsored in part by Edward Jones, will premiere July 28 to August 20.
Following the regular subscription season, Totem Pole Playhouse will present a special “one week only” bonus show, Love Letters, starring Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross the TV parents from hit 1980s television series “Family Ties.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Love Letters centers on Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, who share notes, letters and cards spanning over 50 years, in which they discuss their hopes, ambitions, dreams, disappointments, victories and defeats that have passed as they lead their separate lives. Love Letters will show for 8 performances only from August 22 through August 27.
Subscription prices for all four shows range from $119 to $133 for junior subscriptions ages 5 to 15, and $153 to $171 for adult subscriptions. Single ticket reserved seat prices for the season are all seats $45.00 for Driving Miss Daisy and all seats $50.00 for each of the musicals. This season will offer three low-cost preview performances, an increase of one over last summer. Tickets for Love Letters are $35, reserved seating. In addition, a 4-play and 3-play FLEX subscription plan are offered at the same prices whereby subscribers have the flexibility to choose the performance they wish to attend (subject to availability) rather than be locked into a set date for each production.
Tickets for groups of 10 or more are on sale now by calling the Totem Pole Playhouse Box Office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (717) 352-2164. Tickets for the general public will be on sale February 7, 2017. Online tickets are available at www.totempoleplayhouse.org.