Submitted by Lori Peterson, Spring Valley Stagehands
SPRING VALLEY, WI – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened last weekend at the Spring Valley Stagehands Theatre. Written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, this musical has it all – color, sound, light – and fun! Ann Turner and Gary Lukes, Directors, have created a show that is living up to its promise as another regional crowd favorite. In their spare time, Ann and Gary offered up their thoughts about the show.
What were you most hoping to achieve in putting on this show (and perhaps, why this show)?
Ann: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a favorite show of mine for so many reasons: I like the story; the music is fun and immensely varied; it involves many people but mostly in an ensemble setting so it's a good show for those who want to get involved but don't necessarily want solo parts. The show calls for two very talented singers who could be almost any age / both male and female - so there's good balance there. And, it's a show that families of all ages can attend and enjoy the unique qualities of live theatre....it's been a great show for the Stagehands!
Gary: I was in Joseph as a brother many moons ago and I recall talking to Ann about doing it again at the time, but emphasizing the wonderful vocals and harmonies, that as a vocally challenged brother, I was not able to deliver. This was a chance for a "do over" and this cast of brothers knocked it out of the ballpark. The ladies were extremely solid the first time and are as equally spectacular the second time around.
What has been most challenging about putting on this show?
Ann: Because it's a through-sung musical (all singing with no spoken lines), the rehearsal schedule has been very ambitious for everyone. Many full cast hours have gone into learning songs, choreography, stage movement, emoting while singing, and so on. We certainly appreciate the dedication of this cast and all the crews!
Gary: The biggest challenge for me was the choreography that was involved in every scene, which is not my forte. We found some extremely talented folks to take on the big numbers, like Ann, Laura Wood, Becky Leland, Michelle Schmitt, Ethan Hayes, and Whitney Owen. However for all the other numbers, there wasn't the traditional blocking scheme as it was all dance choreography. I really had to step out of my comfort zone with this one. Ann is a natural at this, so it was very fortuitous that she was involved in this show, as I was far from natural with this type of show.
What are you most excited about with this show?
Ann: I'm very grateful for Jae Anderson and her artistic talents on the set. It's fun to hear how much people like the set and that's a great credit to Jae. Gary Lukes is very dedicated as a director. He’s organized, creative, and humble. It’s been a great experience to work with him and watch his style of direction. I thank him not only for all the work he does getting the actors ready, but for all his knowledge of light, sound, construction, advertising…you name it and Gary can do it. I’m looking forward to round 2 as we get going next on Grease! Additionally, I like to hear the cast say how much fun it is to perform now that we're in front of an audience. This show is a lot of work, but I'm delighted that the singers are all having a good time in the midst of the busy-ness of "Joseph." Their excitement is so contagious. Every show, I get to direct the Pit Band and I have a bird's-eye view of the stage - both front and back. The Pit Band players are such good musicians and so responsive to the singers onstage. I smile a lot while I'm up there because I get to see the antics of three groups - the performers in front of the audience, the goofing around behind the curtains, and the instrument players who complete the whole picture.
Gary: The most excited I was about the show, was how it was open to the actors putting their own unique stamp on it. The show is written like a book with blank pages and if you have the right mix of actors it becomes beautifully illustrated. This show has the right mix of talented actors and it shows each and every night as I see more and more of the cast investing in the product and adding their own little "stamp" to it. It is gratifying as a director to see the cast "own" the show and push it to the next level each and every night. I have often said, in my own personal opinion, that the best thing a director can do when surrounded by a talented cast is to get out of their way and let them do what they do best and that is to entertain. This cast can entertain with the best of them.
Tickets are going fast so get yours now at www.svstagehands.org. Remaining performances are March 31 and April 1 at 7pm; and April 2 at 2pm. All performances will be held at the Spring Valley Theatre.