What audience members never see is an actors quick change and literal sprint around the back of the auditorium to make it back on stage in time for their next entrance.
I snapped this photo in the Green Room during intermission as the girls rehearsed for the 2nd Act of “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
Now that Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has wrapped, I’ve been reflecting back on a few of my take-aways from the experience:
- Small roles are awesome. You have fewer rehearsals, the preparation isn’t as intense, the anxiety is far less, and you still get the thrill of performing. Being able to focus more time on a short time on stage means you can pour more time, energy and intensity into the role and to the brief time you’re performing.
- It’s not the size of the part, but what you do with it. I’m always sad when I see people who choose not to be in a show if they don’t get the lead role. Too many actors think that large roles and lead roles are the only worthwhile roles, but many audience members will walk away remembering a supporting character who gave a memorable performance.
- Okay, I kind of get it now. I’ve always thought Elvis impersonators are cheesy, and you will never see me in Vegas doing an Elvis impersonation. However, after putting on “The King” for a few minutes on stage I sort of begin to understand the allure. People love it and there’s a strange and powerful mystery to the whole Elvis personae. Face it, there’s just something about Elvis. I’m not sure what to do with that, but thank you. Thank you very much.
- Audiences love to be surprised. One of the comments I consistently received about Pharaoh was the shock that audience members experienced and how blown away they were by it. The pomp, the power, and the majesty of Egyptian Pharaoh appearing in full regalia in classic fanfare only to rip off his headdress moments later, don the pompadour and break out in rock-a-billy, hip-swinging wail. For a lot of audience members it was mind bending, gut-busting fun. It reminds me to ask myself both in writing and in directing: “How can I surprise the audience and do something they don’t expect?”
- When it comes to community theatre, successful shows require people to wear many different hats (or headdresses, if you please), and there’s a lot to be learned from the experience. I played a small role on and off the stage compared to other actors and crew members, but I was never bored and rarely had any down time. When not getting into costume and make up for my brief stage appearance, there were plenty of other things that needed to be done like helping Wendy in answering the box office phone, printing tickets, making coffee for the Patron Lounge, making sure the men’s room had paper towels, putting together floor lamps, checking on the photos in the auditorium gallery, making sure ushers knew where to find the programs, welcoming audience members and helping steer the herd to the auditorium or ticket table, setting up the projector and computer, switching backdrop slides, pointing people to the bathrooms, taking photos for the archive, cleaning up the make-up counter, cheering up and cheering on fellow actors, making pre-show announcements, helping elderly patrons up the stairs, and et cetera. But you know what? Part of the reward for putting on a successful show is in knowing just how much bloody work it takes to pull it off.
It was great to have my folks and Wendy’s family at Sunday afternoon’s performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. When mom, who didn’t know the show, heard that I was playing Pharaoh I think she was thinking more Yul Brenner than Elvis. She was in for a little bit of a shock 🙂 .
There are three performances left if anyone is interested. Tickets can be purchased here.
Chapter-a-Day Psalm 66
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:11-12 (NIV)
Wendy and I are in production week for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The award-winning Broadway musical retells the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-47), the famed little brother who was given a dream that he would rise to greatness and all of his brothers would bow down to him. His older siblings responded to Joseph’s dream in typical fashion by throwing him into a well and then selling him into slavery. Though his father was told he was dead, Joseph was actually taken to Egypt where he was put to work in the house of prominent local official. After a brief stint of success in his job, Joseph was wrongfully accused by his master’s wife and put into prison. Talk about a string of bad fortune.
Through the long weeks of production, Wendy and I have constantly ruminated on the story of Joseph. I can only imagine the cynicism and anger Joseph must have felt rotting in the Egyptian prison. For years and years and years his dreams of greatness had proven to be nothing more than pipe dreams. One bad turn after another appears to lead Joseph further and further away from the dream God gave him as a boy. It seems so unfair for God to give a promise of incredible blessing, then immediately lead Joseph down a marathon road of suffering.
Of course, Joseph’s misfortune proves to be God’s divine providence in the end. In prison, Joseph gains a reputation for having a knack with dreams. Circumstance brings him before Pharaoh who was having some confusing dreams about an upcoming famine. Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph that he raises him to a place of unparalleled prominence and puts him in charge of getting the nation ready for the upcoming famine. I’ll let you guess or read the rest (or buy a ticket and see the show over the next two weekends). Joseph’s long, hard road was actually preparing him for leadership, honing his character, and putting him in just the right circumstance to save his family.
I was reminded once again of Joseph’s incredible story when I read David’s lyrics from Psalm 66 this morning. Joseph’s biography, along with David’s, remind us that God’s ultimate purpose for us is often at the end of a tough road. Wendy and I can bear witness to this simple spiritual principle as we see it at work in our own lives. The truth is, we want the blessing without the burden. We want the pleasure without the pain. Yet, God’s purpose is for our spiritual maturity and wholeness, and that does not come without a price.
Today, I’m thankful for the hard roads I’ve trekked on this life journey. They haven’t been easy or fun, but they have been both necessary and beneficial. It is what it is.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
Wendy and I are into the final two weeks of production on Union Street Players‘ production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical tells the tale of the biblical dreamer Joseph who is sold into slavery by his brothers, is wrongfully accused and finds himself in an Egyptian prison and then is released to become Pharaoh’s right hand man. Joseph ultimately is reunited with his brothers and saves his family from famine. The music spans an enjoyable plethora of genres from 50s Rockabilly to Country Western to music fresh from a French Bistro.
Wendy has been assistant directing the production which has included a little bit of everything from directing to choreographing to set design and costuming. Of course, we’re also handling ticket sales, painting the set, managing video projection and helping out with marketing here and there (Wow, I’m tired just writing all of that).
I’ve got the small but fun part of Pharaoh. I’m only on stage for a short time, but I get to do a fun Elvis “thang” for my song, Song of the King. I’ve had a blast with it. The cast has been a pleasure to work with and the vocal talent on stage has been tremendous. I’m really looking forward to getting it in front of an audience. I think people are going to be amazed at the results.
Joseph will be performed Nov 30 through Dec 2 and Dec 6 through 8 at the Pella Community Center. Tickets are going fast and can be purchased on-line.