by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Public School teacher and theatre director Christopher Layton is hoping to tackle something next year not done by the school before – a musical.
At last week’s production of Big Bad, the school’s latest comedy, Layton told audiences that it is his desire to produce Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
“It is the first musical I ever saw; my sister was in a production of it at BYU in Utah and even as a kid of 12 years old at the time, I just loved it,” Layton said. ” The music in it covers all kinds of genres (country, pop, tango, rock, disco, etc.) and some of the songs’ delivery is just hilarious. The king of Egypt is Elvis.”
Layton said he has seen at least seven different productions and finds himself entertained each time.
Although MPS has now done several comedies, Layton said he’s always wanted to do a musical, but was a little scared.
“It’s a huge amount of work and money that have to go in, and you really need to have the right crew of people who are dedicated and kids with talent,” Layton said. “Having worked with these kids for a few years now, I see the talent and can’t wait to do this.”
This past year’s Teacher’s Convention offered a workshop by teachers who have done musicals at Festival Place on how to put on a musical. It helped ease Layton’s worries and got him excited to give it a shot.
“I’ve always told myself if I ever got up the guts to try a musical, Joseph would be the one I’d do,” he said. “I’ve seen dozens of musicals, but this one has a special place in my heart, and we’re going to do everything we can to do justice to it.
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Layton said the school is fortunate to have a dance academy who will take care of choreography. Additionally, a number of fantastic music teachers will serve as vocal coaches.
“I’m really excited to be working with them, and we’re all super excited to put on a production on such a big scale,” he said. “It’s our first time doing something this big, but my philosophy is ‘Go big or go home,’ so we’re all in on this.”
The production would have between 50 and 100 students in it. Casting will begin in September, and Layton plans to rehearse from September until April when the musical hits the stage.
But in addition to 50 to 100 student actors, the school will need a considerable amount of money to put on the show. Licensing fees for the musical are in excess of $3000 and then there are costumes and other set costs.
Layton is hoping local businesses, parents and the general community will help support the school’s ambitious theatrical production.
Layton said donations can be dropped off at the Morinville Public School office. Cheques can be made payable to Morinville Public School. Those who donate will receive tax receipts.
“We are more than happy to express our gratitude by putting business advertisements and personal shout-outs in the playbill,” Layton said, noting they hope to have a link on the school webpage for donations set up this week.
For more information, contact Layton at firstname.lastname@example.org.