CHRISMAN – The next musical by Chrisman High School students is perhaps the most ambitious project so far at the school.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” by the groundbreaking team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber requires a big cast prepared to put full energy into a nonstop performance.
“The cool thing is it is all sung. There’s no dialog,” said principal Cole Huber, who is directing the show. “I’ve never done a show like this where it is all singing and dancing all of the time. There is no down time.”
It is also the biggest cast he has ever managed. The cast has 24 high school and junior high school students, two teachers and 15 elementary students.
Picking a show for the high school students to perform is a matter of balancing several factors. Having worked with all of the students for several previous productions, Huber has a good sense of not only each person’s strengths and weaknesses but also what the group can do collectively.
“I felt it truly fit our cast,” Huber said.
Another issue he considers is the fun factor. Huber explained the Chrisman community has a strong preference for high school productions that are both fun and family friendly entertainment.
“It’s a great, fun show,” Huber said.
Huber’s students lack his breadth of knowledge about musical theater and often have to look up the musicals selected. It was a mixed reaction to the announcement the school was performing “Joseph.”
Rylee Lorton had heard of it and was aware the storyline has a biblical connection, but she had never heard the music nor seen a performance of the musical. Fellow cast member Colby Phipps was much more excited about Huber’s 2019 selection.
“I hadn’t seen it live, but I was familiar with the show,” said Phipps.
“Colby was jazzed,” Lorton insisted.
Phipps auditioned for and got the lead role as Joseph. Student cast members explained they can audition for specific roles but they also know Huber has the final say, and he sometimes puts people in positions he believes best suits their talents.
Some of Huber’s choices surprise those getting the part.
Kaiden Moody wanted a small part and was cast as one of the brothers, but starting in act 2 he dominates the stage as the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Huber split the narrator’s role between Lorton, Lindsey Franz and Addison Pickett.
The young women said splitting the demanding role was beneficial.
“That way you don’t have to learn all of the songs,” said Pickett.
Lorton added the three students sharing the role give each other a lot of support, exchange ideas about how to do it and help with developing dance moves.
“A lot of the choreography for the narrator is getting out of the way of the other dancers,” said Pickett.
Being handed part of the narrator duties surprised Franz.
“I just wanted to be in the ensemble,” she said.
All of the cast principals said theater is something they enjoy despite the time commitment.
“There’s no other club like theater,” said Phipps. “Even though it’s just high school the students take it seriously. I have tons of fun.”
Despite just wanting a small part, Moody acknowledged a desire to be an actor, which is something of a family trait.
“My mom kind of pushed me into it because my sister did it,” he said.
Franz is self-described as shy and finds theater a broadening activity that helps her express herself.
“I wanted to work up to it (lead roles), but I’m glad the way it turned out,” said Franz.
At the other end of the scale is extrovert Lorton who is comfortable doing class presentations and being on the stage.
“It’s like playing dress up, and it’s acceptable at 17,” said Lorton.
Pickett appreciates the camaraderie that develops as the cast gels and the performance comes together.
“I like the family aspect. I feel like we get kind of close,” Pickett said. “I like going on the stage to be someone different with a different persona.”