BHS theater presents musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'
A play about the biblical story of Joseph, his father, 11 brothers and a colored dreamcoat, is coming to a Brainerd stage.
The Brainerd High School Theater Department will present its 2019 spring musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," with performances at 7 p.m. May 2-4 and 2 p.m. May 5 at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. Tickets may be purchased at the door an hour before the performance. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students.
BHS Theater Director Karla Johnson said the students are performing the original version produced by The Musical Company with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. According to the play's website, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the play. The story is about Joseph and his 11 brothers, who are jealous because their father, Jacob, gave him a special coat and the brothers do not like this. At first they want to kill him, but instead they enslave him to make money.
Johnson said for those who are not familiar with the play it is all song—there is no dialogue.
"I've never directed anything like this before," Johnson said. "(BHS choir director) Brian Stubbs and I wanted a challenge. ... Blocking songs is very different. Blocking is where you tell actors where they need to stand or what they need to do. Blocking songs is very different than blocking dialogue. The actors need to do some sort of action when you are blocking a song. They actually have to have movement and different choreography ... the whole thing is choreography and dancing."
Johnson said the musical also poses a challenge to the pit orchestra—made up of 14 students—who do not get a break as there are no speaking roles. The orchestra performs throughout the play and is directed by Spencer Frie, BHS orchestra director.
"I'm very grateful for the students because they are an extremely hard-working bunch," Johnson said. "I've also had two students, Gracie Simonson and Jacob Beckmann, who approached me and asked if it was OK if they could block a song and I said, 'Fantastic, that would be amazing.' It is very helpful and they are doing a great job on this one song."
Johnson said even though there are no speaking roles, the auditions for the play were competitive and she had to cut 30 students. Some of the students were able to find other ways to help with the play.
Johnson and Stubbs have had to work closely during rehearsals.
"This show is unique as it is the first musical we are doing that is all song," Stubbs said. "So this means we're putting it together different than previous shows. Normally, we would divide and conquer. I would go in one room and she'd send the kids to work with me and she'd stay in another room and work with the other kids. Now it's all mixed. We're all in the same room together—all the rehearsals are in the choir room.
"It is a shorter play than the normal two hours-plus plays BHS has done. This one is an hour and 10 minutes. I think this makes it more audience friendly. It has so much in each song, it's a lot of fun and has corny jokes."
Stubbs said Webber wrote this show when he was young for a Sunday School class.
BHS junior Jacob Hanson plays Joseph. Hanson said he was drawn to play Joseph because the musical is all singing and he loves to sing. Hanson is in Windfall and A Capella Choir.
"I was super excited when I got the role," he said. "Because I knew I would get to sing in both choirs and then after school for an hour and a half.
"This play is so much more different. It was hard to start this one out because the theater blocking is figuring out who goes where and when. So that is very hard as there are not many clues in the words of where to go. It's basically all choreography compared to stage directions. But this is getting easier, we are figuring it out."
Hanson said his role has less choreography than the other roles, so he gets to watch the other students do their choreography. He said playing Joseph is an interesting character who is the protagonist in the story. Hanson said his character develops during the musical, which is a children's musical and is a light-hearted story.
Hanson joined theater last year during the One Act play. He also did the musical "Grease" and this year he did the fall play.
"I had a lot of friends who were in theater," Hanson said. "I always kind of wanted to join, but I was always too scared to do it. So I just went for it and I love it."
Rebecca Eslinger, a BHS senior, is one of four narrators in the play who tell the story. She said they sing their narration and do it at the front of the stage while the other cast members sing and dance in the background.
Eslinger said she wanted to be a narrator. She said Johnson told her she would be good at it and she has been having a fun time at rehearsals.
"We are getting closer to the end of the final staging of the play," Eslinger said.
Eslinger did a lot of Prairie Fire Children's Theatre productions growing up. At BHS, she did the musicals during her sophomore and junior years and she did the fall play last year.
"I really like it because you can become someone else and still be yourself and you learn more about yourself by exploring these other characters," she said about her interest in theater.
"In theater, the best part about it is you have a whole new family and they are all so accepting of who you are. Sure we have hiccups, like all families, but overall it's a great time. I also like to be on stage. Growing up I was always so nervous and scared to be myself and then once I started doing theater, I became more confident. The feeling you get on stage—you are your own person."
Noah Barnhart, a junior, plays two roles—Jacob, Joseph's father, and Joseph's brother Levi. The roles are totally opposite as all the brothers hate Joseph and Jacob loves Joseph.
Barnhart joined theater last year during the One Act play and has been in every play since. He played a variety of roles, from comedic to more serious.
"I first joined because I wanted to see if I could do it," Barnhart said. "And I fell in love with it. I felt like it was something I was good at. Then I was in 'Grease' and I played Sunny and it was the best experience of my life. I got a chance to meet all these people and work with them in the plays."
Barnhart has enjoyed playing a variety of characters to help build his resume. He said he enjoys playing younger, funny characters best. However, Jacob is the first older character he has played.
"I like having the interactions with Joseph and all the things we get to do," Barnhart said. "We get to hug on stage a lot and I don't want to spoil the play or anything, but when something happens I get to cry about it. So it's really fun."
"I encourage everyone to come see the show as it will be amazing," Barnhart said.
If you go
What: Brainerd High School Theater Department's spring play "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
When: 7 p.m. May 2-4 and 2 p.m. May 5.
Where: Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd.
Cost: Tickets may be purchased at the door an hour before the performance. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students.
• The Narrators: Grace Carruth, Rebecca Eslinger, Emily-Rose Severson and Peyton McConkey.
• Joseph: Jacob Hanson.
The Brothers and their wives:
• Reuben: Oliver Knudson, and wife Gemma Peterson;
• Simeon: Max Dwyer, and wife Emma Finken;
• Levi: Noah Barnhart, and wife Izabelle Baysinger;
• Judah: John Toven, and wife Scottie Svoboda;
• Dan: Jacob Beckmann, and wife Sydney Pribula;
• Naphtali: George Gebhard, and wife Jessie Grabouski;
• Gad: Daniel Roehrich, and wife Maeve Pritschet;
• Asher: Tristan Hanley-Olson, and wife Isabel Haglin;
• Issachar: Aden Crabb, and wife Gracie Simonson;
• Zebulun: Hunter Armstrong, and wife Abby Pratt;
• Benjamin: Atticus Osborne, and wife Isabelle Weber.
• Jacob: Noah Barnhart, and wife Mia Maerz.
• Pharaoh: Ethan Marichalar.
• Mrs. Potiphar: Jaden Wendt.
• Potiphar: Teddy Wadsten.
• Baker: Jordan Higgins.
• Butler: Daniel Roehrich.
• Stage Manager: Skyler Fox.
• Lights: Hollie Larson.
• Sound: Olivia Dilley.
• Choreographer: Libby Borash.
• Pit Orchestra Members: Kaylie Gowens on flute; Erika Christiansen, clarinet; Claire Horn, flute/piccolo; Anna Streed, saxophone; Noah Joque and Tela Smith, trumpets; Del Mattila, euphonium; Olivia Killoran and Grace Erholtz, violins; Morgan Schmidt, cello; Chloe Cure-Hendrickson, drums; Luke Meyer, percussion; Sean Jacobson, piano; and Taya Person, bass.
• Tech crew: Mia-Rose Severson, Ally Klomp, Haley Derosier and Abigail Thompson.
• Hair and make-up: Madi Aberle, Britney Eck, Ariana Jensen, Abigail Marana and Anna Chapp.