High school production of ‘Dreamcoat’ promises high energy, contemporary feel
BY VANESSA LANGDON
For Your Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA — This year’s Niskayuna High School musical is a pop-infused hit. The 30 high schoolers and nine fifth-graders will be bringing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” to the stage.
The show is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25, to Saturday, Feb. 27. Curtain is at 7:30 each night, and a 2 p.m. performance will be held on the final day.
The high-energy show has never been performed at the high school before, and director Eric Hughes looks forward to bringing the unique performance to the community. The story is of a young dreamer, a man named Joseph — the same Joseph whose story is told in the Book of Genesis.
“It’s a big dance show. We haven’t done once since ‘Cats,’” said Hughes. “It’s like a rock show.”
The show is different than the typical musical featuring contemporary style music. Hughes took that contemporary feel one step further than the “typical” production does.
“We’re not using any of the traditional costumes or scenery and I’m staging it exactly like a rock concert,” said Hughes. “All the costumes are contemporary urban wear.”
Hughes had a vision for the urban design and knew all along he wanted to do something out of the ordinary.
Costumer Lauren Fox worked with a crew of five girls to create all the costumes in house for the production.
“The kids are great they’re all very excited,” said Fox.
A major costuming feat when putting on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is creating the dreamcoat itself. Fox had the coat created in pieces and two parents made a backdrop that connect to the coat to create a massive look for the audience.
“It’s just a nice connection,” said Fox of putting the show together. “It involves students and the alumni. We poured in our efforts to make a nice show.”
Those efforts did not come together overnight. The students rehearsed for three hours six days a week since the last week in September. For seniors Ethan Schalekamp, who plays Joseph, and Kendall Brake, who plays the narrator, that rehearsal schedule was not that bad.
“Mr. Hughes doesn’t work us too hard,” Brake said.
Both she and Schalekamp are in the musical and are student athletes.
“Eating well and trying to get enough sleep is a key part of the formula,” Schalekamp said.
That formula allows the two to stay on top of their schoolwork and still be ready to shine in the show — something that Schalekamp has some experience with. He played Anthony Hope in last year’s Niskayuna High School production of “Sweeney Todd.” This is Brake’s first lead role.
“Well I think the title makes it seem deceivingly Joseph-centered. Honestly, I feel I’ve had the easiest job in making the show come together,” said Schalekamp, who credits Brake, the company and dancers for all their hard work.
That hard work put into the production by all the students is why Schalekamp believes everyone should come to the show.
“Everything comes together as one fluid production and it’s good,” he said.
Schalekamp and Brake admitted that many of the students in the production were wary going into the show. The group lost 12 seniors last year to graduation, leaving many empty spaces to fill.
“Last year it was very nostalgic,” said Blake of losing the seniors. “We have a lot of new boys in the show this year with 12 brothers [in the cast], a lot of them have had a positive experience and plan on returning.”
This year the group is not as close because of the turnover, but Schalekamp believes that it’s just a gestation period and that they’ll be more close-knit in the future.
Tickets for the show are $15, but $10 for students and seniors. They can be purchased via a mail-in order form or at the box office at the school. The box office is open 10:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. when school is in session. Walk-up tickets are available one hour prior to the performances although preordering is recommended. Tickets are reserved seating in the auditorium.
“It’ll be an entertaining two hours and it’s entirely performed by students,” said Hughes. “It’s a fun show.”