by Tammy Rosenfeldt,

The Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Theater Department was proud to present Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,

March 9th-11th in CHCA’s Lindner Theatre. Directed by Susan Jung, the show was truly a community-wide production. From the talented cast (consisting of students in grades 4-12) and equally talented orchestra, to the phenomenal crew and tech team, to the outstanding parental involvement, it truly took a village to put on this production. Over 130 students were involved in the cast, student production team, and orchestra.

It truly took a village to put on this production.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is no ordinary show. It is a musical of Biblical proportions! With creative and contemporary storytelling, this CHCA production was an immersive experience, following Joseph’s journey from beloved son to slave to Pharaoh’s right hand man. (Yes, it is all there in the Book of Genesis…) The show featured non-stop musical numbers that ranged from country-western to Calypso, the audiences had never seen – or heard – the Old Testament quite like this.

Beginning the show with the astounding talent of the three Narrators (Abby Cates, Sarah Koopman, and Claire Wilkins) let the audience know they were in for a treat. All three actors brought their own personalities to the party, while working together to tell the fast-paced story of Joseph. Senior Josh Braden brought depth to the character of Joseph, while staying on the quick-witted beat with his entertaining brothers.

Exceptional talent was featured on the stage each minute of the show.

While exceptional talent was featured on the stage each minute of the show, particularly unique opportunities were available for some of the upper school students behind the scenes as well. After using early concept drawings by CHCA senior Maya Yates, junior Grace Vanderwoude, an AP art student who had designed the set for CHCA’s recent production of “The Crucible”, learned Photoshop in a matter of days to create all the set projections for this production. Guided by CHCA Technical Director Jim Jung, Junior Trevor Cebulskie and grade 8 student Connor Espenshade worked with professional-level programs such as After Effects and QLab to create, import, and run all of the projections. Whether on or off the stage, all students learned skills that were necessary to work in professional settings, going beyond the high school, or even the college, levels.

The show’s director Susan Jung shared, “For the Saturday night performance, the theater department hosted two theatre professionals, Jackie Demaline (former theatre critic for Cincinnati Enquirer) and Ed Cohen (Theatre director/teacher at a variety of Cincinnati colleges and professional theatres) to watch and critique the show. They were nothing but complimentary of the students and the work they had done.”

Perhaps few realized the challenges posed by being on four platforms on multiple levels and on two different sides of the stage.

CHCA junior and Joseph cast member, Doug Hansford also had this to share about the experience, “Many people were amazed to see the orchestra out of the pit and on stage, but perhaps few realized the challenges posed by being on four platforms on multiple levels and on two different sides of the stage. Music Director, Dr. Dan Grantham began rehearsing the Orchestra and Steel Drum Band in January. Once the musicians moved to the stage platforms, he conducted the group from the stage while navigating the cast and dancers. Eventually, he moved to the platforms to play keyboard and trumpet. The assignment of starting the pieces was then given to an extraordinarily talented drummer, senior Colin Keenan. There were monitors so that every orchestra member could hear the drums keeping the group together. In addition, all the section leaders had ‘in ears’, a device placed in the ear to provide audio, purchased for the orchestra by CHCA’s Friends of Fine Arts. CHCA ’17 alum, Carter Jackson pre-recorded an audible beat designed to keep tempo known as a “click track” so that the lighting and other visuals were in sync. Additionally, Keenan used a “talk back” mic in rehearsals, allowing him to communicate with those using “in ears” and with Jackson, who was running sound. It was a new experience for the group. The senior leadership of Colin Keenan on drums, Laura Karrer on viola, and Abigail Macy on violin helped their sections and the overall group stay together while navigating the musical score.”

It was obvious that they had been ‘infused with the joy of storytelling.

Susan Jung continued, “A favorite quote from the theatre professionals who came to critique was that the students’ ‘energy and focus’ was remarkable and that it was obvious that they had been ‘infused with the joy of storytelling’. Nothing could have made me prouder in that moment. Storytelling is what Jesus did to reach the hearts of people for God, and it is what we strive to do in our department. Every aspect of our storytelling is intentional and important to us, and when the last cord hit and the audience experienced over 100 of our students bringing Joseph’s story to life, I knew that we were glimpsing the true character and very nature of our Creator who gave us the skills, abilities, gifts, and opportunities to do His good work.”

Tammy Rosenfeldt is Marketing Communications Associate for Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy

The show is one of five upper school theatre productions put on at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy this year. Mark your calendars now to attend the 5th Annual Academy Night Live (April 27-28), and The One Act Play (May 8).

Congratulations again to all for an outstanding performance!

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