Based on the biblical story of Joseph and the coat of many colours, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is an early collaboration between the famed pair of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. On Feb. 23, a special production of Dreamcoat opens at the Chatelech Secondary School Theatre. Local teachers Sara Douglas and Tom Kellough spearheaded the move to make Musical Theatre a course available to students across School District 46. Dreamcoat will be the debut production of the inaugural Musical Theatre class. Douglas is the director and producer, while Kellough is the musical director. “Tom and I both went to a high school that had a rich musical theatre tradition,” says Douglas. “I wanted my own kids, and the kids that I have been teaching since kindergarten, to know the joy of musical theatre.” While there were two previous productions, Into the Woods and last year’s Pirates of Penzance, running the program after school wasn’t getting the kind of response the teachers’ hoped for. “It didn’t work to run it extra-curricularly,” says Douglas. “Now the course is run out of Chatelech, but kids all over the Coast can register for it.” Students in grades 8-12 are marked for their efforts and receive credit for the course. “For elementary kids it’s a transition program,” explains Douglas. “An opportunity to become familiar with the high school.”
Forty-two students from grades 6 to 12 registered for the class, with 38 opting for stage roles, while the other four will handle costumes, lighting, sound, and stage management. Auditions were held to assess students’ voices and assign them roles. Almost every line is sung in this musical, and there is a lot of choreography for the students to learn and incorporate. Jake Roberts, a grade 9 student from Pender Harbour Secondary earned the role of Joseph. “It’s been a lot of fun,” says Roberts. “This is my second year, so I was like ‘let’s go big.’ I auditioned for the role [of Joseph] and I got it.” Though Roberts isn’t sure if he’s going to pursue a career in theatre, some of his classmates are using the opportunity as a way of testing their interest, and the entire class is gaining experience in teamwork and dedication, as they’ve been rehearsing since September. “I’ve really learned how to transform myself from me to Joseph,” says Roberts. “[One day], I’ll be able to transform myself from a nervous wreck to confident for a business interview.” Roberts and the rest of the cast are very much looking forward to opening night and performing in front of an audience. “I think I’m ready,” Roberts says with conviction, perhaps already undergoing a transformation.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at the Chatelech Secondary School Theatre at 7pm on February 23, 24 and March 2 and 3. Tickets $10 available at Laedeli Gifts and Strait Music, with proceeds to fund next year’s musical, Fiddler on the Roof.