Each year The Player's Studio proudly produces a number of shows in a variety of genres. Each play is carefully selected or originally crafted to promote the overall vision of The Player's Studio and to highlight an aspect of the theatrical learning process. Every student who is registered for one of our classes is guaranteed a role in the play their class is producing.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream is perhaps the most iconic of all William Shakespeare's many comedic plays. Set in Ancient Greece, Midsummer follows four young lovers as they journey through an enchanted forest. Once inside, the group find themselves caught up in the mischief of fairies. Along with a group of players practicing a drama for the Duke of Athens, the humans all must deal with love spells, transformations, and mistaken identities. Audiences will laugh with glee as they wait for the antics of the sprite Puck to all be set to rights. A Midsummer Night's Dream was the first full length production for the newly formed Player's Studio.
Our Town is considered by many to be the great American drama. Written by Thornton Wilder in 1938, Our Town tells the story of Grover's Corner. This metatheatrical play in three-acts follows Emily Webb as she lives out her ordinary life in a very ordinary town. Guided by the Stage Manager, the audience watches as Emily grows, falls inlove, gets married ... and beyond. This play takes a profound look at what it means to be human and to live and love in everyday life. Our Town earned Wilder a Pulitzer Prize and remains one of the most popular dramas to be produced to this day. The play was the second production for The Player's Studio and the first to run over two nights.
Wonderland is an original script by Founder and Director Karen Culbertson. Based on the works by Lewis Carroll, this play follows Alice as she plunges into a fantastical world to be found just down the rabbit hole. Alice meets all our favorite characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Tweedles, and the Mad Hatter. Of course, no journey through the looking glass would be complete without the threat of the Queen of Hearts. Originally slated to play in 2020, this production was sidelined by the global outbreak of Covid-19. After some recasting and a new rehearsals the show was able to premier finally in the Spring of 2021 for a two night run.
Kid Frankenstein by Kathryn Schultz Miller is a zany adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein perfect for young casts and audiences of all ages. Young scientist Frankie and pal Irma (aka Igor) have no idea what to do for the school science fair. That's when Dr. Frankenstein's lab book mysteriously arrives. Together with new friend Helga, the kids create their monster. But what happens when it gets loose on the town? Packed with laughs from start to finish this play was the very first production of The Young Player's, a division of the Studio that focuses on younger actors. This play was originally scheduled for the spring of 2020, but Covid-19 delayed the show for a full year. Despite the setback the production opened to a packed out house!
Princess and the Pauper
The Princess and the Pauper is a retelling of the classic tale by Mark Twain. When Princess Elizabeth and young peasant girl Taby meet by accident one day they discover something amazing; they look exactly alike! They decide to switch dresses for a moment but get caught and switched for real. Now Taby has to navigate the strange world of the royal court while Elizabeth attempts to convince Taby's family to help her get back to the palace. This play is filled with fun little gags, amusing characters and may seem totally silly on the surface, yet it offers interesting commentary on how well we are really seeing the people all around us. The Princess and the Pauper was performed in the summer of 2021 as part of the Studio's first summer camp program and was produced in connection with Drama Notebook.
As You Like It
As You Like It by William Shakespeare is a tragicomedy that offers audiences all the best of a Shakespeare play. Rosalind has been cruelly cast out of her uncle's kingdom. Disguised as a man, she and her cousin and the court jester make their way to the wood where her long banished father is said to be hiding. There in the forest, Rosalind discovers the man she loves is also in hiding, but rather than reveal herself she decides to keep up her disguise and test out just how true his love for her is. This tail of of twisted identity is equal parts hilarious and poignant. It also features one of the strongest female leads in all of Shakespeare. This play was produced as part of the Studio's first summer camp program in 2021.
The Spelling Bee Buzz
In little Grayson County, the Spelling Bee is the highlight of the academic year. But someone has nefarious plans for the competition and the Grand Prize is stolen right our from under everyone's noses. It's up to supersleuth Nancy Dixon, her twin brother Andrew and their friends Christie and Art to save the day. Everyone in town assumes the local bully is behind the crime, but Nancy is not so sure. This is a mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end and the culprit is going to surprise everyone involved. The Spelling Bee Buzz is the second original script by Director Karen Culbertson. It also marks the first production of the special middle school division of The Player's Studio known as The Junior Player's Studio.
The Mystery of the Missing Medallion
In a strange kingdom some time ago, the king and his daughter have gone missing. Meanwhile a mysterious young girl named Emma has had her precious medallion stolen from her and to make matters worse, her best friend Logan is accused of the crime. Emma only has a matter of hours to find her medallion and prove to everyone that Logan is innocent. She will enlist the help of the great detective Cornelius Bumble to solve the case. However, the wicked queen and her henchmen are determined that no one will ever see that medallion and that poor Logan will rot in jail forever. This hilarious play was produced in the Spring of 2022 in association with Drama Notebook, a drama curriculum website filled with lessons and scripts for every program. The Player's Studio highly recommends you check them out at https://www.dramanotebook.com/drama-curriculum/.
The Player's Studio was proud to bring Agatha Christie's long running stage play, The Mousetrap, to the RGV in the Spring of 2022 with not one but two talented castings. Christie fills this play with a host of quirky characters who find themselves trapped by a snowstorm.Giles and Mollie Ralston are a young married couple with a bright future. They have just opened Monkswell Manor, a guesthouse in the English countryside. One by one their first guests begin to arrive, but it soon becomes apparent they are bringing more baggage than just literal suitcases. Suddenly Sergeant Trotter arrives with the news that snow is the least of their worries. Seems a murderer is on the loose and police suspect Monkswell Manor to be the setting of their next crime. This production was not only The Player's first double cast but also our longest running production to date.
A Midsummer Night's Dream Jr.
During the Summer Intensive of 2022, The Player's Studio presented Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Junior. This original adaptation by Director Karen Culbertson uses updated language while maintaining all the fun and mischievous magic of the original. Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of fairies, are fighting over a small boy, and the argument has cause mayhem in the natural world. With the help of his trusted Puck, King Oberon is determined to have what he wants. Puck, ever the prankster, is more than happy to fulfill his master's manipulative plans and add a little merriment of his own for good measure. A Midsummer Jr. was part of the Studio's second summer series. In addition to the regularly scheduled performance, the cast also performed at the McAllen Public Library in connection with the Children's Department.
Prospero is a powerful magician living with his daughter Miranda on an uninhabited island. But this island was not always their home - Prospero was once the Duke of Milan until his wicked brother Antonio conspired with King Alonso of Naples to have Prospero ousted. Now fate has brought Alonso and Antonio close to the shore’s of Prospero’s island. Using the skill of his fairy servant Ariel, Prospero hatches a manipulative plan to get his revenge. Ariel conjures a great tempest that causes a shipwreck and strands the king and his court, leaving them stranded. Now they are at the mercy of Prospero and his magic. He separates the King’s son Ferdinand from all the rest and makes him his slave. Just what the purpose of his plan will be, however, remains a mystery and will change his daughter’s life forever. The Player's performed The Tempest as part of their second Summer Intensive programin the summer of 2022.
The Christmas Witch
Far up in the North Pole Santa's Workshop runs smooth as silk every year, largely thanks to his crack team of elves and their overseer, Chief. It's up to them to see the toys are ready to go on Christmas Eve. But Santa's magic is not the only kind in the frozen north. A witch lives there, too. This Witch hates Christmas and this year she is ready to put a stop to the celebrations that irritate her so much. She puts a terrible curse on Santa and it seems Christmas may be over forever. That is until Chief and his four top elves decide that they have no intention of sitting around and letting a witch ruin the holidays for everyone. The Young Players performed this original Christmas play written by founder and director Karen Culbertson in December of 2022.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
CS Lewis is the author of one of the most beloved children's fantasy series of all times and Joseph Robinette has brought the first of that Series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to the stage with his adaptation. In December 2022 The Player's High school troupe in combination with the Junior Player class performed this classic tale for four masterful performances. This is the tale of four children drawn from their world into the magic world of Narnia through a passage in a wardrobe. There they meet wonderful creatures and talking animals; but they also find themselves in the midst of a terrible war for the control of the land. the cruel White Witch has reigned the kingdom with an iron fist and the poor citizens are longing for the return of Aslan. And, it turns out that the children are crucial to Narnia's freedom.
Jack, the Giant Thief
In the Spring of 2023 The Player's Studio presented its fourth original production. Jack of the famous beanstalk is an old man, content with his farm and his family. But the rumors about his adventures continue to surface and now his granddaughter and her friend want the truth. Jack is all too happy to regal the children with the tale and take the audience along as well. Sitting with Grandpa Jack the story comes to life as past and present meet. The children can hardly believe what they are hearing and neither can we. This play draws on several common giant fairy tales to weave one unique version of a classic. All the favorites are there, plus a few new characters and twists to love. This show was presented by the Junior Players and is written by Founder and Director Karen Culbertson.
The Ash Girl
The Ash Girl is a bold and profound retelling of the classic Cinderella story written by British playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker. In this version the heroine known as Ash Girl not only faces the abuse and ridicule of her stepmother and stepsisters but she must face her own inner demons as well. Ash Girl and all the humans live on the edge of a dark forest haunted by the Seven Deadly Sins and Sadness. Each character must face down that weakness that plagues them most and find the courage to hope again. It is only then that Ash Girl can truly be saved by her Prince Charming and that she can turn around and save him back. This thoughtful and moving play was produced with permission from The Dramatic Publishing Company and showed for three nights in the Spring of 2023.
Hamlet Gone Wrong
The Player's Studio Summer Intensive produced an original take on the Play That Goes Wrong called Hamlet Gone Wrong. A local theatre is set to open the great Shakespeare tragedy of Hamlet when everything begins to fall apart - namely that Hamlet has walked off. A brave audience member agrees to take on the titular role and what follows is a rollicking laugh out loud farce filled with missed cues, faulty props and mispronounced lines. Ophelia thinks she can do it all better, the ghostly king keeps getting lost on stage and one poor actor has been double cast in roles that conflict. The audience for this one night only performance never stopped laughing at this highly creative and successful play.
Peter and The Wolf
Sergei Prokofiev wrote the original music and narration for the children's theatre in Moscow in 1936. Here the classic tale is told in a whole new way and was presented in The Player's first ever outreach production. In collaboration with the RGV Down Syndrome Association, the story of Peter is brought to the stage in a truly collaborative production that used actors from the RGVDSA organization, narration written by director Karen Culbertson, and volunteers from UTRGV, the community and TPS students. True to the original. young Peter is determined to have an adventure in the woods despite his grandfather's caution about wolves. When Peter finds the warnings are true he must be especially brave in order to save his new woodland friends. This show ran one night only in the fall of 2023 to a packed house.