NEW CASTLE —
(Video highlights and cast list appear at bottom of the story.)
Charles Gryn believes a high school production should be just that — a performance produced primarily by students.
When Laurel High’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” opens tomorrow, more than 40 kids will take to the stage, but “At least 275 students will have touched this show in one capacity or another,” said Gryn, who is the director.
“Business classes designed the tickets and poster,” Gryn went on. “Art and shop classes built and painted the sets. Home-ec classes made the costumes. CAD classes designed the sets. Add in all the choreography and vocals, and this is a show in which students are in the forefront everywhere.”
Gryn has taught at Laurel for 36 years. “Joseph” will be his 18th musical.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” is a musical based on the Bible story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. It tells the story of a favorite son’s victimization by his jealous brothers who sell him into slavery, and his rise to the No. 2 position of power in all of Egypt.
It is a story of forgiveness and redemption.
Gryn says “Joseph,” last performed at Laurel more than a decade ago, was a perfect fit. Retired teacher Carol Miller, he added, had been begging to do the show again.
“She is the biggest ‘Joseph” fan in the world, and she agreed to come back and help out with the production.” Gryn explained.
“The show is a good crowd pleaser. I like it, and for the first time in years, we don’t have girls playing boys roles. We had enough boys audition.”
One of those boys is sophomore Jake Blank, who makes his Laurel stage debut by playing Pharaoh.
“I don’t know if I would have tried out if I would have known what all being in the show involved, but once I started to get it all down, I really loved it,” Blank said. “It is a fun role.
“I have a great time with it, and I will definitely try out again next year.”
The role requires Blank to, among other things, dress and sing as Elvis Presley. The Pharaoh is “The King,” after all.
Blank has learned a lot from the experience, most significantly, “It has taught me not to listen to being nervous. I get nervous about stupid stuff, and I listen to that too often. It holds me back.
“But I won’t do that any more. The show has helped me conquer some of those fears, including being in front of people.”
For senior Ashley Mengel, this is her fourth and final musical on the Laurel stage. She admits it is a bittersweet moment.
Mengel plays a variety of characters, most notably a baker who winds up in prison with Joseph.
“I want everyone to understand the sense of family within the cast, even though there are so many different personalities,” Mengel said. “It was stressful at first. You definitely need a sense of patience to be with such a big group of people, but we all came together in the end.
“It was definitely worth it. We all have such a sense of accomplishment.”
Gryn is proud of the schoolwide involvement in the show.
“Laurel is known as such a sports-oriented school district,” he said, “but in addition to all the students, we have at least 15 teachers involved, the parents theatre arts boosters who pay funds for the show.
“This district really does support the arts.”
Cast of characters
Narrator 1: Tonya Lenhart
Narrator 2: Mikaylah Jewell
Narrator 3: Carley Pickel
Narrator 4: Abby Sheperd
Joseph: David Rogan
Potiphar and Jacob: Austin Lahr
Pharoah: Jacob Blank
Ashley Mengel (plus Baker and Adoring Girl), Victoria Kosek (plus Cook), Erin Hassett (plus Adoring Girl), Jamie Ringler (plus Adoring Girl and Angel in Heaven), Jolene Stiteler (plus Adoring Girl), Bonnie Kautzman (plus Adoring Girl), Makayla Dupont (plus Adoring Girl), Taylor Lubinski, Sara Baker, Cheyenne Kirkwood, Kayleigh Mariani, Abbey Murphy, Hannah Shearer, Hannah Kuhn, Lani Crawford, Kaitlyn Penwell, Ruth Zeigler, Sissy Gallaher, Victoria Lovell, Shayna Houston
Andrea Fedrizzi (plus Potiphar’s Wife), Jessica Chin, Justina Chin, Marissa Lubinski, Mariah Wickline, Bekki Jones, Kacee Caughey, Francesca Mastrangelo
Ruben: Noah Baumis
Simeon: Krag Kerr
Levi: Brett Kauffman
Napthali: Tom Litzenberg
Isaachar: Jason Regal
Asher: Evan Downing
Dan: Austin Ayers
Zebulin: Devin Miller
Gad: Adam Frazier
Benjamin: Dakota Parson
Judah: Matt Bessell
Camels and Sign Carriers
Rhonda Mitcheltree, Zoe Kerr, Loren McConnell, Chloe Brown
Eddie Cracraft, Ethan Wilson, Cody Little (Horse Guide)
Elementary School Chorus
Genesis Bedilion, Billie Jo Cole, Jordan Comstock, Wyatt Dean, Lydia Dicks, Sydney Domer, Kayla Emery, Chantz Fedrizzi, Alicyn Ferrante, Jenna Hill, Anna Hovanec, Heather Jewell, Ireland Kelly, Amanda LeRoy, Kayla McConahy, Jamie McCormick, Amy Parson, Toni Sager, Kaili Sallmen, Chelsey Shontz, Jenna Staples, Addison Stewart, Elsie Stich, Mariah Ward, Abby Wright