New Theatre Technology on Display in MMS Production of “Joseph”

With the addition of new intelligent moving lighting fixtures, the use of LED pixels, winches for automated flying scenery, and brand new state-of-the-art pyrotechnics, Marlowe Middle School aims to dazzle audiences with its production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the PAC March 17-18.

Last years’ production of The Lion King, Jr. performed at District 158’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) by Marlowe Middle School students, had theater-goers talking for months.

“I really felt like I was watching a higher level production! The lights, the sounds, and the attention to detail through the use of technology are amazing,” said one audience member.

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The in-depth performance, which combined singing and acting talents, scenery, costuming, and music along with some awe-inspiring theater technology, made for quite the spectacle. Lighting provided vibrant light, brilliant colors, and textures, while haze and other special effects gave audience members the feeling of being a part of the live performance.

This push for technical theater education and equipment is being led by PAC Technical Director, Nathan Knapke and Director of the Performing Arts Center, Lorie Woods.

“It’s really cool to see the changes happening over here at the high school,” Knapke said. “When I first started here at the PAC (2014), we had about 20 lighting fixtures on the rig, many needing serious maintenance, and about 7 working lapel microphones. Today, we have 14 intelligent moving lights, about 50 conventional fixtures, and 32 lapel microphones.”

The newer technology provides many added benefits for the student productions. Not only are the productions enhanced with more capabilities, but Huntley High School students also are learning the same technology that is used professionally. This technology also assists with the quick turnaround times between the eight or more stage productions each year.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have the financial support of the District, the Huntley Fine Arts Boosters, and hopefully soon, the District 158 Education Foundation. Production equipment is expensive so we are also looking into other funding opportunities,” said Woods.

This year’s production of Joseph is crewed by 10 HHS students, all working different technical aspects such as lighting, audio, playback, stage crew, and special effects. In addition, many have volunteered countless hours to building and painting the scenery needed for the show.

“We started designing the scenic elements for Joseph back in November. Everything was 3D modeled and computer designed in order to ensure everything would fit on the stage. It was a pretty massive undertaking for the short time we had to build it,” says HHS junior and special effects operator Allen (AJ) Lowenstein.

The main set piece consists of a 40-foot wide Egyptian pyramid adorned with detailed hieroglyphics and stylized paintings, done by local artists Theresa Darby and Kristin Plansky. Other elements include a desert water-well, a golden chariot, and a seven foot flying pharaoh’s head.

“I love technical theater. There is nothing else in the world that I could see myself doing. I can’t get enough of it. I would love to see Huntley High School be a leader in the Technical Arts and put on professional level productions. We work every day to build a bigger, brighter, louder stage,” says Knapke.

Joseph, featuring the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, tells the story of a young man whose brothers are jealous of their father’s favoritism toward him and the beautiful coat he receives as a gift. They sell him into slavery in Egypt, telling their father he has been murdered, but Joseph ultimately becomes important to the Pharaoh through his ability to interpret dreams.

Performances are scheduled to take the stage Friday and Saturday, March 17-18, at 7:00 p.m. each night, with an additional matinee at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. The show is directed by Jennifer Lindsay and Brooke Atlas, with costuming by Sarah Moran.

“I like to think we’ve only began to scratch the surface in making performances at the PAC the talk of the town,” says Woods. “And we are very excited to premiere the new equipment (some of which has not yet been used in Illinois – much less in a high school theater!) during Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The Performing Arts Center is located at Huntley High School, 13719 Harmony Road in Huntley. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door one hour prior to performance times or in advance online at www.district158.org/web-store/.

For more information please contact Jennifer Lindsay at jlindsay@district158.org or Lorie Woods, Director of Performing Arts Center at (847) 659-6107.

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