The lights went out on Broadway at 5 p.m. on March 12, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented 17-month closure of Broadway’s playhouses.
At Eden Prairie High School (EPHS), the stage lights also went dim. But at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12, the curtain will finally rise on EPHS’ first fall musical in two years, a much-anticipated bright, witty, and rollicking rendition of the Broadway classic, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The show will run the next two weekends at EPHS Performing Arts Center, 17185 Valley View Road, with tickets available at vancoevents.
Treven VanderLouw, assistant technical director and a senior at EPHS, says that after the forced cancellation of last year’s musical, it’s great to be back.
“Joseph is the first show since the pandemic where we are able to have a full cast, pit, and tech,” he says. “This show has been a blast, and we are all very excited to showcase our work in our upcoming shows.”
Over 80 talented and dedicated EPHS students are involved in this musical comedy, plus eight Central Middle School choir students. Based on the Bible story about Joseph and his coat of many colors, the show explores themes of love, faith, family, and forgiveness.
The lead role of Joseph is played by EPHS senior Sam Aaberg.
“Joseph is a super well-known show; I was a little surprised at how many of my parents’ friends absolutely love it,” he says. “I’m lucky to be playing a role that so many people connect with and have positive memories of. Joseph is also just such a fun role because of the show’s range of moods. All this outrageous stuff is going on, and I get to be this straight-laced character who’s constantly being thrown into crazy situations.”
This is the third time EPHS will perform the musical hit from Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, having staged it in 1991 and 2008.
However, this latest production brings more inclusivity to the performance while remaining true to the original, says Laurie Nebeker, EPHS English teacher and the show’s director.
“We know many of our audience members have seen Joseph before and are fans of the show,” Nebeker says. “The student input in our production process has given us the opportunity to look at the show with greater awareness of culture and other contemporary issues.”
Costume, set, and lighting design support this fresh angle, Nebeker says.
“The students influenced the design of the show to emphasize more universal storytelling themes rather than a historically realistic look,” she says. “The show is full of anachronisms anyway and is a tour through musical genres, so audiences will see a mix of costume styles, each connected to the music style for the song. The set has some multi-use platforms and many accent pieces to highlight styles for particular songs. We’re also excited to be using our new rear-projection system for a more dynamic background.”
Fans of the show’s singing, music, and dancing will enjoy that it ends with a “Megamix” where audience members can sing along with their favorite songs, Nebeker says.
Cast and crew say they are excited to perform together.
“We were lucky enough to have had a ton of new people audition this year, and it’s really exciting to see a preview of the future of the department,” says Aaberg. “None of the freshmen or sophomores have ever gotten the chance to do a musical at the high school. We have a lot of returning upperclassmen, too.”
EPHS’ theater program is open to all students and offers a chance to try new things in a fun team environment, says Nebeker.
“High school theater is special because it’s a really immersive experience that allows kids to discover talents they didn’t know they had,” she says. “They gain stamina and learn problem-solving and collaboration. They build a supportive community as we work on the production and encourage each other.”
VanderLouw, who has done backstage crew for six years, agrees.
“We have learned that practice and preparation can allow us to excel under pressure. We practice our jobs over and over for weeks and memorize our jobs to the very last detail. When the pressure of a live audience is finally there, we perform better than we ever have.”
That live audience will be back in the house the next two weekends to welcome the return of EPHS’ fall musical. All performances are open to the public, and tickets are on sale now.
Sales are online-only, and there are no cash or box office sales.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 18-20, plus a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Nov. 20. Additionally, two performances, on Nov. 13 and Nov. 19, will be livestreamed.
Tickets are $7 for students and senior citizens and $9 for adults. Tickets for the livestream option are $7 for an individual or $15 for a family pass.
Please note: Eden Prairie Schools’ Covid policy requires members of the public to wear masks when interacting with students. Masks will be available for those who need them. However, audience members will not be required to wear masks during the performance, and socially distanced seating is not available.
For anyone concerned about Covid safety, livestream viewing is a convenient way to see the show from the comfort of your own space.
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