by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Public School and Camilla School are teaming up for the first time to present Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The ambitious production will run for three consecutive nights at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre from Apr. 30 to May 2.
Camilla School teacher and show director Christopher Layton said his sister was in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Brigham Young University in Utah when he was about seven years old. It was Layton’s first experience with a live musical.
“I absolutely loved how funny and entertaining it was,” he recalled. “I’ve seen it several times by different groups, and I never get tired of it. It’s just so much fun. It really started my love for musical theatre. I go see musicals as often as my wallet allows.”
But as much as Layton loves musicals, he’s always been afraid to put them on due to the considerable task in terms of cost, costumes, and the extra time to work out singing and choreography. Over the past few years, Layton has directed some increasingly ambitious comedic productions at Morinville Public School.
Layton had thoughts about doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when he was at Morinville Public School last year. When asked by Camilla School if he would consider being the new band teacher for this school year, he had already secured the rights for Morinville Public School to do Joseph.
“There was no way I was going to leave MPS and walk away from the show and the kids there that I’d grown to love, but both MPS and Camilla assured me that if I left, I could still do the show with the kids at MPS,” Layton said. “I realized that if I went to Camilla, it was a chance to recruit even more kids for the show. There are some crazy talented kids at both schools, so it turned out to be a really good thing.”
A LONG PROCESS
Layton began recruiting students for the musical last May with some students practicing songs over the summer to be ready for auditions in September when the school year started.
There were close to 80 students involved in the show when rehearsals started. That number is down to somewhere between 60 and 70 due to some students dropping from the production due to other extracurricular interests and obligations. Some of the theatrical veterans from past shows did not take part this time around due to the show being a musical with only one line spoken throughout the entire show.
Layton said each night’s show has a cast of 50 students ranging from Grade 2 to Grade 9. Some students in Grades 2 to 4 swap out each night so younger students are not up late three nights in a row.
“It hasn’t always been easy – we’ve been at this for almost a whole school year, so it’s a huge commitment,” Layton said of the undertaking, adding those taking part in the show are real troopers. Trying to get that many kids’ schedules to jive so they can all be at practice at once is pretty near impossible, especially with two schools having different events and things. But we’ve done what we could with it.”
He is hoping people will come out and see what has been more than a year’s effort.
“This world can be a frustrating, disappointing place sometimes, and a lot of what we get to see for entertainment on TV or in the movies isn’t always very uplifting,” Layton said, adding attendance at the show supports both the arts in general and the students’ hard work in particular. “These kids have worked hard, and they’re dying to show it off. When kids get a huge round of applause from a packed house, it really does wonders for their self-esteem and confidence.”
The show runs nightly from Apr. 30 to May 3. Doors open each night at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 per person and are available at https://studentquickpay.com/sturgeon.