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Totem Pole Playhouse Welcomes New Producing Artistic Director, Ryan B. Gibbs

A New Producing Artistic Director

Previous artistic director, David Hemsley Caldwell, is stepping down from his role after 25 years of working at the Totem Pole Playhouse. Totem Pole Playhouse Board of Directors officially hired a new producing artistic director, Ryan B. Gibbs, around April 23, 2024.

The new opportunity came to Gibbs in a moment in time where he needed it. “I was looking for the next thing, and I got a call from our previous artistic director saying he was stepping back for health reasons,” Gibbs shares. With this new job role, Gibbs is beyond excited, hopeful, and thankful.

Growing up in the local area, Gibbs was familiar with the community. Around seventh grade, Gibbs found his passion and love for theater. He was failing some of his classes such as middle school English, and his teacher gave him an opportunity for extra credit. The extra credit was participating in the school’s play about Greek Mythology.

While participating in this middle school play, Gibbs began to fall in love with theater and the idea that everyone has a shared experience with theater. Gibbs expresses, “We all share that common experience for about two hours. To me, it’s just magic.”

Before coming to Totem Pole, Gibbs was the artistic director for the Playhouse at Allenberry in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Gibbs also worked on Broadway shows as the stage manager as well as other international productions as the supervisor. Gibbs has worked and produced shows such as “Mary Poppins,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and “Wicked.”

Gibbs shares insight from his previous experiences with theater, “When you work in those positions on those large pieces of intellectual property, you really learn a deep bag of tricks for how everyone, who’s at the best of their game, does all of these different roles.”

With his experience, Gibbs also has numerous mentors that he has worked alongside to help him curate a customized approach for how to make something like Totem Pole Playhouse be super successful and satisfying for all who work there.

As the new producing artistic director, Gibbs continues to share his passion and love for theater with the people around him. “Being the artistic director is like the perfect combination of all the things that I do,” Gibbs continues, “I’m one of those scrappy, jack-of-all-trades type people, and that’s what you need in an artistic director.”

Assuming this new role, Gibbs believes that it has already positively affected him. In his position already, he has enjoyed getting to know so many new faces and people around the local area. He reflects, “It has affected me positively because when you feel like you are doing the thing that you are meant to do, it really makes life very satisfying.”

As the 2024 season continues for Totem Pole Playhouse, Gibbs is thrilled to be a part of this new chapter. True too, he is also excited to spend time with his family at Caledonia Park, after school lets out for his children. “I look forward to getting to know everyone in Franklin, Adams, and all other surrounding areas,” Gibbs shares.

The Future of Totem Pole Playhouse

The Totem Pole Playhouse has been regarded as America’s Summer Theater, for quite some time.
Now in 2024, audiences from around the local counties and all over the United States flock to
Totem Pole. Productions such as Pump Boys and Dinettes, Clue: On Stage, Tuesdays with Morrie, Jersey Boys, and Music in the Pines – Concert Series are premiering this season at the Totem Pole Playhouse.
Gibbs shares his excitement, “I am super excited about Tuesdays with Morrie because this play gives more heavy material, but it is so uplifting and thoughtful.”

Tuesdays with Morrie is an autobiographical story focusing on the life of an accomplished sports journalist. The story, written by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom, shares a story of a former influential professor and his student reuniting after many years. The show comes with a twist emphasizing the meaning in life.

Producing this story, Totem Pole Playhouse invites audiences to come and watch this beautiful story unfold from July 12 to July 21. Tickets are available for purchase on the show’s webpage. “It is going to be such a special opportunity for the audience. I hope people will come join in on the experience,” Gibbs shares.

If you would like to learn more about the playhouse or purchase tickets, visit the Totem Pole Playhouse website.


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