About Us

The Popcorn Crew


Director – Ashley Weidner

Assistant Director – Daniel Cooper

Associate Director – Maria Roitman

Stage Manager – Sinead Mccullough

Set – Stephen Andrews & Ashley Weidner

Lighting – Robert Wightwick & Ashley Weidner

Audio Effects – Ashley Weidner & Daniel Cooper

Video Production – Foundry Films

Front of House Manager – Gemma Francis

Front of House – Cameron Tougher, Loren Howard,  Alan Barrett, Abbi Hoole

Photography – Shane Anthony

Film Clip: Ordinary Americans

Directed by Maria Roitman

Written by Daniel Cooper

Director of Photography Liam Hartley

Edited by Liam Hartley and Maria Roitman


Jerry: Joel Norman-Hade

Errol: Ashley Weidner

Mr. Chop Chop: Daniel Cooper

The Girl: Phoebe Lam

Daphne: Irina Herrshner

Ashley Weidner

As a director, Ashley has worked with Alpha Shows touring children’s theatre, Witches in Britches Theatre Restaurant, and most recently, directed the 2019 Lyrebird Awards ceremony. Later in 2021, he will be directing A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum for BABIRRA Music theatre.  He has written for both Alpha Shows and Witches in Britches, as well as writing his own comedy for MICF and the Melbourne Fringe Festival. As an actor, Ashley has played roles such as Thenardier (Les Miserables – OSMaD), JJ Silvers(Strictly Ballroom – CLOC Music Theatre), Panch (Spelling Bee – Cactus Musicals), Berger (Hair – Altona City Theatre), Sam Pickles (Cloudstreet – Purely Pensive), and Roger (Outside Edge – STAG). In 2019, he was nominated for a Music Theatre Guild of Victoria award for his role as General Schmitz in Seussical. Ashley has appeared in both Top Gun! The Musical and People Suck ! (Salty Theatre), and is currently entering his tenth year of performing at Witches in Britches.

Ashley would like to remember, and thank, his uncle Colin Weidner for introducing him to Community theatre in 1996, when he brought him to Essendon Theatre company.

Daniel Cooper

Daniel has been involved in the Melbourne amateur theatre scene for over a decade. He is best known as a performer, appearing as William Barfée in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Cactus Musicals), Big Jule in Guys and Dolls (NOVA), Franz Liebkind in The Producers (Waterdale/MLOC), Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and General Schmitz in Seussical (Waterdale). Other shows include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (ACT), Godspell, Into the Woods (ACUPA), The Witches of Eastwick (Fab Nobs),  Spamalot (MLOC), Dust (Riverlinks/Hubcap Productions), and Essgee’s The Pirates of Penzance (Waterdale). Offstage, Daniel has fulfilled a variety of other roles. Notably as a director, he helmed Waterdale’s productions of Urinetown and Avenue Q, and most recently High Fidelity with SLAMS. He has also written a short play called Top of the World, which has been featured twice as a part of Shepparton Theatre Arts Group’s annual Ten in Ten. However, his proudest achievement so far is being a founding member of Cactus Musicals, a new company dedicated to putting on quality, small scale musicals.

Maria Roitman

Maria draws on her wide range of experience in theatre and film as associate director on Popcorn’s production team.  Maria is co-founder, producer and director of Foundry Films, who created the clip of Ordinary Americans screened at the start of the play. When she’s not behind the camera, Maria can be seen performing on stage in music theatre shows and plays. Most recently Maria was seen as Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Cactus Musicals), Bird Girl in Seussical (WAT), Greta Neff in The Witches of Eastwick (Fab Nobs) and Rapunzel in Into The Woods (WAT). Other highlights include Trailer Park Production’s Shining Armour as Sera, People’s Playhouse Pendragon as Lady Guinevere, CASUM’s Amadeus and Synesthesia: A Triple Bill of Operatic Works and MUST Container Festival shows Match Girls as Witch and Shadows as Catharina.

Director’s Note

I have never been one to labor over a Directors note, being far more inclined to let to work and the production speak for itself, and allow the audience to come to their own conclusions, interpretations, and opinions. In truth, I’ll usually read it on the way home after the show, if I liked it. For me, a Director telling you how to appreciate their work is like a Painter standing next to you saying “did you notice the eyebrows?”

Nonetheless, this is my only chance to say something.

When I first saw Popcorn in at the Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1999, I would have hoped that it’s themes of media manipulation, deference of blame, and ‘satanic panic’ style hysteria would be irrelevant and outdated by now. And maybe, if this production had been staged 7 years ago in March 2020 as planned, I would have almost believed they were. Surely people aren’t influenced by what they see on TV and in films to this degree? You can’t tell me the media manipulates their narratives and headlines to purport an agenda that would be irresponsible…

The exciting element of Popcorn for myself, and the team, is that whilst the words haven’t changed in 20 years, the relevance and significance has evolved to enable and encourage us to think in a broader sense about to role of art and media in shaping our model of the world. As media creators today, through social media platforms, it also encourages us to think about the role that we play in shaping the message that we project on to others’ model of the world.

Naturally, when approached by Powderkeg to resurrect this production of Popcorn from its pre-pandemic pause, I jumped at the chance, and gladly so did the entire original production team and cast. Along the way, we have been incredibly fortunate to collect some other incredibly talented people to help us bring it to the stage. I would like to thank the team at Powderkeg for giving us the chance to bring this to you.

Personally, I would like to thank my team, Daniel Cooper and Maria Roitman. It’s hard tospecify their level of involvement in this process stay under the word limit I’ve been set,though we could not have brought this to you without their support, guidance, ideas, and talent.

It all started with a big bang!

A great man once said the times they are a changing…and this continues to ring true for most places, including Sunshine.

The Sunshine Community Theatre Committee have decided to pay homage to the theatre’s roots by going back to the the original name of the company, Powderkeg Players, which began in 1971 in the old Albion Explosive Factory.
Read more about our history 

With a our new name comes a meaty new playbill that is sure to keep you entertained for the year. Check out what’s on and book your tickets now to avoid missing out.

Sunshine Community Theatre inc. trading as Powderkeg Players is a non-professional group of players based in the western suburbs of Victoria, Australia, just 15 mins out of Melbourne. We rehearse and perform at Dempster Park Hall, Phoenix Street, Sunshine.

We’re a friendly bunch of people and encourage anybody who wants a go at getting up on stage to come and audition. Or perhaps you might want to help out in the front or back and sometimes even in the middle (apart from audience members there’s sound & lighting).  Contact 0407802165

We perform different styles of plays each year be it drama, comedy or pantomime and everything in-between and are members of the Victorian Drama League and the Association of Community Theatre.

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