Aug. 08--The musical comedy "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which opens a three-weekend run Friday, Aug. 9, closes this summer's season of Moonlight Musicals at Mackenzie State Park's Wells Fargo Amphitheater.
Since December 2011, it is the 15th Moonlight Musical Kyla Olson has worked with -- but her first to direct.
Indeed, Olson, 30, is on the dance faculty at Texas Tech, and is listed as executive director, choreographer and company dancer for Lubbock's Flatlands Dance Theatre.
She said she wanted to "build up my professional resume," and Moonlight Musicals producer Gerald Dolter agreed "Joseph" would be a good choice for her to direct.
Olson explained, "As a choreographer, you are directing the performers' movement during musical numbers. This is an easy transition in regards to 'Joseph' because there is very little spoken text in the show.
"It's one song after another, so it makes sense to have the same person be director and choreographer."
It makes sense, but it also is a lot of work.
"It has been a little overwhelming," Olson said, "in the sense that I am completely responsible for every single part of the production. ... As a choreographer, you come in and set musical numbers, but are not always involved in blocking scenes."
In a nutshell, this is musical comedy, a Bible story and also the first time that England's Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber worked with lyricist Tim Rice.
Their future collaborations would include "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Evita."
When it comes to humor, one of the funniest characters is Pharaoh, who resembles an overstated late Elvis Presley.
Olson said Dolter cast the show, "But he picked the most appropriate person as Pharaoh. Ian Klotzman was born for this role.
"Ian is great at taking any role and making it his own. He is such a talented, comedic performer, and he completely steals every scene he is in."
Klotzman said, "I love coming in at the very beginning of Act II, knocking the socks off the scene, and then never coming back until the very end. I'm basically a Red Bull for the show."
He says he is the perfect actor for the part because, "I can grow some mean (mutton)chops."
When asked if he felt challenged to not go too far over the top with his character, Klotzman replied, "With this character, over the top is the only way to go.
"The Pharaoh scene has to inject energy and excitement into the beginning of the second act. I'm throwing out all the stops. If I don't get the biggest cheer at the end of the show, I'll just have to comfort myself with a couple of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I'm kidding,"
Most agree that the narrator has the play's most challenging vocal role and, in this case, that would be Kristin Moore.
However, Olson felt the title role required thought, as well.
"I was looking for someone who could play Joseph as a simple man with a gift for deciphering dreams. There is an innocence I wanted Joseph to showcase in Act I, but then he must be able to show strength and then sympathy in Act II.
"Travis Burge worked really hard to convey these emotions.
I've worked with Travis in other shows where he played more quirky roles. So it is great to see him take on a more dramatic role here."
Burge, 25, said he was born in Lubbock and raised in Floydada.
He now is pursuing a career as a music theater performer, but said, "I would love to eventually teach."
This is not his first Biblical show, though, having performed in "Godspell" in 2011.
"That production was very special to me," Burge said, "because it conveys a story from the Bible in an entertainment setting, which in turn is a form of mission work, as it shares the word without having to be in church."
He has only compliments for Olson's contributions for "Joseph..."
"It has been a joy to work with her," he said. "Kyla is really well suited for this show, and she has given me great insight into my character that I had not considered before."
(c)2013 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas)
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