PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This High School's Award-Winning Design Team Takes Flight in Catch Me If You Can | Playbill

Education News PLAYBILLDER Spotlight: This High School's Award-Winning Design Team Takes Flight in Catch Me If You Can

At one Missouri drama program, students are encouraged to grow as actors, technicians, and designers.

Sullivan High School's Catch Me If You Can

Welcome to PLAYBILLDER Spotlight, where Playbill highlights shows and events from educational institutions around the country (who have used Playbill's program-building service). By welcoming these PLAYBILLDERs center stage, we hope to give our readers a more in-depth look at theatre programs that are fostering the love of the performing arts in the next generation.

Guide: How To Build Your Own Custom Program with PLAYBILLDER

This week's spotlight is Sullivan High School of Sullivan, Missouri and their production of Catch Me If You Can. Adapted from the film of the same name—Terrence McNally, Marc Shaiman, and Scott Wittman—this musical follows teenager Frank Abagnale, Jr., who runs away from home with nothing but his wit and millions in forged checks. After posing as a doctor, a lawyer, and a pilot, Frank catches the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who attempts to bring Frank down to earth.

Speech and drama teacher Kimberly Wibbenmeyer shared with Playbill how she went from being "a jock" to being a theatre kid, and why kindness is just as important as making a perfect show.

Sullivan High School's Catch Me If You Can

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your proudest moment as an educator?
Kimberly Wibbenmeyer: We had the honor of taking our fall show, The Taming of the Shrew, to the Missouri Thespian Conference this past January. Not only did we enjoy the show at our home space, but it was truly special bringing the show to our peers across the state and also sharing our love of Shakespeare with them too. Receiving feedback from other teachers about how their students were able to understand a Shakespeare show for the first time was the absolute best.

Can you share a little bit about the value you see in having a performing arts program in schools?
As someone who started out her academic career as a jock, and then was injured, I found my place in the theatre. It not only became a second home to me, but also a place where my creativity could thrive. So many of my students find their place in the theatre program even though the arts may not be in their futures as a career. The arts can give them a safe place during their time at the high school, which is everything. These programs can also help students learn so many skills they can take with them to their futures: presentation skills, time management skills, empathy, teamwork, and camaraderie. Especially in a world of nonverbal communication and digital connections, theatre can fill in the gaps that students need.

Sullivan High School's Catch Me If You Can

What are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of teaching the performing arts to today’s students?
The world is very different than it was prior to the pandemic. Prices are higher, mentalities have evolved, and yet everyone expects the exact same thing. The world has changed, and so too must our programs. The difficulty is discovering in what ways we need to change and doing it in a timely, cost effective, and student engaging way. However, since the pandemic, so many things have been eliminated and cut due to funding. And yet, we are still here. Our students need us now more than ever. Seeing them discover the arts, dedicate their time and energy, and then thrive is truly amazing.

Sullivan High School's Catch Me If You Can

Tell us a little bit about the production. What made you pick the show? How do you choose shows for your students?
I consider what will help my students grow as actors and designers. What type of show will stretch their muscles? I never choose a show based on a single person or group of persons due to the fact that you can never guarantee who will show up to auditions or interviews. You may plan on a kid being the star for the next show and then they don't do the shows that season. Or, even better, someone else comes in and throws a wrench into everything by being amazing! I simply go into it by seeing what my kids need to become well-rounded actors and technicians or designers. Now, if there is a lesson to be learned for our audience as well, even better!

How did the students participate in the design or production of this Playbill?
Using PLAYBILLDER has honestly saved me countless hours of prepping a program for our productions! Its simplicity and user-friendly format allows students to be able to help me in the creation of the program, as well as saved me hours of wanting to smash a computer in trying to create a proper page format for everything we need. The Playbill has also given my students a fun and memorable high school souvenir.

The students completed the forms to answer questions and gathered photos in order for me or the marketing team (when we have one) to then use and complete the Playbill using PLAYBILLDER. Our student design team has won awards at the local, state, and national levels, and even shows off their pieces at our state capitol each year for our Fine Arts Education Day.

What message do you have for your students as they take the stage?
Be kind to each other. While we strive for professionalism and holding ourselves to professional standards, we are still an educational theatre program. We need to grow and learn from our mistakes, errors, and accidents. When we get mad at each other, we don't learn or grow. Be kind, and love each moment, because you never know when it could be the last.

Sullivan High School's Catch Me If You Can

To design Broadway-quality programs for your next show, head to Who knows, you might just be featured in our next PLAYBILLDER Spotlight! And if you are looking for a beautiful way to display your Playbills, click here to purchase Playbill frames.

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