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A multicolored musical

Apollo Civic Theatre produces Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

Apollo Civic Theatre produces Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

September 18, 2008|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -The Apollo Civic Theatre's production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is an event of firsts.

It's the first time Daniel Speis has directed for the Apollo stage.

It's the first time Donny Cook, who portrays Joseph, has ever performed in a musical production.

It's the first time Suanne L. Eckel, who portrays the Narrator, has ever played the Apollo, even though she's been in 20-plus shows on area stages.

And this is the first time the Apollo has partnered with a nonprofit in the hope of raising money for community organizations.

The musical, written 40 years ago by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, who also wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar," tells the biblical story of Joseph and the multicolored coat given by his adoring father. The Martinsburg production opens Friday, Sept. 19, and continues for two weekends.

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Speis, of Martinsburg, is most recognizable to Apollo regulars for his eight years on stage. So for his directorial debut, he's promising something magical with several special effects. "Site and sound that'll tickle the senses," he says.

He says he's excited to add his own vision to the production.

"I'm taking a campy feel. I think the show lends itself to that," he says.

Cook, of Falling Waters, W.Va., says he sang for years at his Alabama church, but had never been in a musical. Then he came with a friend and tried out for "Joseph," expecting to be cast as one of the brothers.

"The hardest part was losing the accent," he says of his part. One of his friends gave him a diction dictionary to help cut through his southern accent, which he says helped.

Cook says even those who don't know the Bible can still follow along.

"People really enjoy the musical because it tells a Bible story, but it tells a Bible story in a fun way," he says.

It's the music, Cook says, that has made the production continue to be one of Webber's most popular musicals. It has styles from tango to pop to country.

He says the show's popularity is also because of the simple message: "Never give up on your dreams."

Eckel, of Hagerstown, is a veteran when it comes to "Joseph." She has performed in it in Hagerstown, Frederick, Md., and Charles Town, W.Va.

Eckel says she had taken about a four-year break from stage and was looking for something to ease her back when Amanda Hartman Herold, the show's choreographer, told her about the auditions. Eckel ended up being cast as the Narrator, a part with which she was already familiar.

"I felt like I was back home," Eckel says of her return to the stage.

Although she's familiar with "Joseph" and the Narrator's part, Eckel says it still isn't easy trying to remember her entrances, especially because her lyrics tell the story. "Sometimes the music is the same, so I have to make sure I'm paying attention," she says with a laugh.

The Apollo is instituting a new program this season. At the first Saturday performance of each show, the theater will donate $1 for every ticket stub collected at the door. The money will be earmarked for a different nonprofit for each production, according to Michael Noll, Apollo board president.

The money collected from "Joseph" will benefit Hospice of the Panhandle, where Speis has been employed for nearly three years as a social worker.




If you go ...



What: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

When: 8 p.m. Fridays, Sept. 19 and 26, and Saturdays, Sept. 20 and 27; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 21 and 28

Where: Apollo Civic Theatre, 128 E. Martin St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

Cost: $15 for Friday and Saturday performances; $12 for Sunday performances; $7 for students to any show.

More: Call 304-263-6766 or visit www.apollo-theatre.org

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