Totem Pole Playhouse, America’s summer theatre, located in Caledonia State Park between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, PA has announced the second installment of the Playhouse’s new Friday FUN Nights! series, a special “sing-along” screening of the Academy Award-nominated movie musical Annie starring Carol Burnett. Tickets for the screening are $10 for children (15 and under) and $15 for adults which will include a bag of popcorn, a soft drink and a box a candy with each admission. In addition, the Playhouse welcomes those attending to dress-up as a character from the classic musical and prizes will be awarded for the Best Child and Best Adult Costume.

The special screening is made possible by an arrangement with Swank Pictures in St. Louis, MO. The screening at Totem Pole will have the lyrics for all of the songs scrolling across the bottom of the screen for the audience to be able to sing-along if they chose to.

Annie released in 1982 is the film version of the Broadway Tony Award-winning Best Musical of the same name by Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin and Thomas Meehan, which in turn is based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip created by Harold Gray. The movie stars Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, and Aileen Quinn as the title character.

Set during the Great Depression in 1933, the film tells the story of Annie, an orphan from New York City who is taken in by America’s richest billionaire Oliver Warbucks.

The next “Friday FUN Nights” will be on July 19th, a solo concert, Always Find a Song, by acclaimed cabaret artist Barbi McCulloch, who has appeared at concert venues around the world including the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York. Reserved seats for the special one-night only concert will be $20 in advance and $25 at the Door the night of the show. There will also be several local food trucks and vendors serving meals and dessert ahead of the 8pm show.

Closing out the series will be a special sing-along screening of the box office record-breaking musical Grease starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta on Friday, July 26th.

The Totem Pole Playhouse Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat & Sun. 11am to 5pm; opened until 9pm on performance nights.

Totem Pole Offers Screening of “Johnny Got His Gun” July 15

Totem Pole Offers Screening of “Johnny Got His Gun” July 15

Totem Pole Playhouse will offer a special benefit screening of the feature film Johnny Got His Gun this Sunday, July 15th at 7PM at the Playhouse in Fayetteville, PA. The film stars actor Ben McKenzie from the current FOX television series Gotham, as well as past TV series Southland and The O.C. Totem Pole’s Producing Artistic Director, Rowan Joseph, directed the movie which was produced through his film production company Greenwood Hill Productions.

The movie is a filmed version of the 1982 Off-Broadway play based on the Award-winning novel, rather than a remake of the 1971 movie which Trumbo wrote and directed himself. Trumbo’s version won the Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.  Clips of the film were used by the group Metallica in their 1989 music video for the song “One” which was based on the novel as well.

“What appealed to me about the project was not only its anti-war theme but the fact that the screenplay is very pro-soldier.  While it does a great job presenting the book’s most famous anti-war passages, it gets just as much power, if not more, from the main character’s unflinching resolve to overcome his situation,” said McKenzie.  “Even though the film takes place in World War I, it is sadly still relevant today.  The movie demonstrates so beautifully the fact that you can be both for the soldiers and against the war; that they are not two opposing points of view.”

Joseph noted that the dedication at the end of the movie reads: This film is a testament to the noble sacrifice of those who fight our wars for us and a reminder of the solemn responsibility of those who choose to send them. “Unlike the original film which showed the main character’s world from the outside looking in; this version of the story, like the novel itself, is presented entirely in the first person,” Joseph explained.  “From the beginning and throughout the film we see him as he sees himself; in his mind’s eye, healthy, youthful, trapped.”

McKenzie plays Joe Bonham, a young American soldier hit by an artillery shell on the last day of the First World War.  As a quadruple amputee who has lost his eyes, ears, nose and mouth, he lies in a hospital bed but remains conscious and able to reason. He struggles to find some way to communicate with the outside world. Tapping his head in Morse code, he breaks through and pleads with his caretakers to be put on display as a living example of the cost of war. The film explores the interplay between science, medicine, religion, and politics.

Marshall Fine, former four-time chairman of the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle wrote in his review of the film, “Joseph’s version, while packing the same emotional power, is a more poetic, more imaginative version.” Dennis Harvey writing for Variety called the movie, “a thrilling accomplishment.”

Bradley Rand Smith adapted the play from Trumbo’s 1939 novel, which has sold over a hundred million copies worldwide and had several major reissues since it was first published just two days after the outbreak of World War II.  The stage play was first presented Off-Broadway in 1982 at the Circle Repertory Theatre where it starred Jeff Daniels who won an Obie Award for his performance.

Joseph will conduct a question and answer session with the audience after the screening. McKenzie is currently working on the fifth and final season of Gotham and will not attend.

All general admission seats are $25.00 with the proceeds will go towards Totem Pole’s ongoing Capital Campaign. Tickets 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 or online at

I Love A Piano Heads to Final Weekend

I Love A Piano celebrates the music of Irving Berlin, The story follows the journey of a single 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 “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “White Christmas,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” “Always,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “God Bless America,” and many more. Composer George Gershwin once said, “Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.”

The production centers around the journey of a single 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 “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Blue Skies,” “Easter Parade,” “White Christmas,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” “Always,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “God Bless America,” and many more. Composer George Gershwin once said, “Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.”

Leading the six-person cast are Broadway veterans, Jonathan Rayson from Little Shop of Horrors and A Year with Frog and Toad as Alex and Jane Labanz, from the Tony Award winning revival of Anything Goes, as Sadie.

Local favorites returning to the Totem Pole stage are Taylor Whidden Knapp as Ginger, most recently seen as Jan in Grease, and Shawn Martin as George, last seen here in South Pacific.

Rounding out the cast are University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music student Emily Celeste Fink as Eileen, and CCM graduate Dane Becker as Jim, who also appeared in Grease: Liveon the Fox Network. CCM is the oldest musical theatre training program in the country and was the first of its kind; it consistently ranks as one of the top university programs in the country.

Serving as Director is David Hemsley Caldwell for his 18th season at Totem Pole, having recently directed last season’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Darren Server, who recently starred in Totem Pole’s critically acclaimed production of The Drowsy Chaperone, will conduct the on-stage eight piece Dixieland jazz band and share musical direction with Steven Zumbrun.

Tickets for all regular performances are priced at $50.00 and can be purchased by calling the Totem Pole box office at (888) 805-7056 or on-line at


Totem Pole Playhouse Welcomes Michael Learned & Lance Nichols for Driving Miss Daisy

Totem Pole Playhouse hosted four-time Emmy Award Winner, Ms. Michael Learned, Olivia Walton from the classic TV series “The Waltons” (as seen locally weekdays at 3 & 4 pm on the Inspire Network) on Thursday, May 11. She answered questions about her upcoming role as ‘Daisy Werthan’ in Totem Pole Playhouse’s season opening production of Driving Miss Daisy. Joining Ms. Learned was her co-star, Lance E. Nichols, from the HBO series ‘”Treme,” who will portray the chauffer, ‘Hoke Coleburn,’ in the play, as well as the production’s director, Michael Bloom.

Michael Learned and Lance Nichols have performed “Driving Miss Daisy” seven different times, all at different theaters. Lance has performed it an additional three times without Michael. Mr. Nichols said, though the play is 30 years old, the message is just as valid today as it was so many years ago. “Driving Miss Daisy” is not only a love story, but it’s funny. Ms. Learned commented that sometimes getting a first laugh is like giving someone the best Christmas present ever.

Set in mid-century Atlanta, “Driving Miss Daisy” tells the story of an elderly Jewish matron, Daisy Werthan, who is none too happy about being forced to rely on a black man to get her from one place to the next. Gradually, however, Hoke wins her over, and during the 25-year span of the play, the two develop a deep-rooted affection. The Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is a delicate depiction of racial tensions, the passage of time, and the experience of aging. Playwright Alfred Uhry creates two outsiders who come to a mutual respect grounded in each of their independence, strength, and stubborn integrity.

Totem Pole Playhouse is presenting “Driving Miss Daisy” May 26 to June 11. Purchase tickets online here or contact the box office at 888-805-7056 or 717-352-2164.