Nancy Sasso Janis
Curtain Call Kids is a children's community theater group serving western CT. Their director is the fine 29-year-old community theater actor named Richard McKenna. Mr. McKenna was in his first production at the Warner when he was only ten and has never looked back. His mom Deb McKenna, a teacher at John Trumbull Primary School since it opened, serves as producer of Curtain Call. His dad gracefully got me into the Saturday night performance of their production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' at the newly flipped Warner's Nancy Marine Studio Theatre. Curtain Call Kids offers its programs through Middlebury Parks and Recreation.
The mission of the theater group is "to provide an educational theater arts program for children of all abilities in a safe environment that enhances participants' theater skills, builds self-confidence and camaraderie, and delivers a high-quality children's community theater experience." For all the young participants, this 'Joseph' was all that and more.
'Joseph' is the operetta by the team that wrote 'Jesus Christ Superstar.' The family-friendly story is based on the "coat of many colors" story from the Book of Genesis and the musical parable features universal themes and a notoriously catchy score. Pharaoh is depicted as Elvis and the musical styles change at breakneck speed from country-western to calypso, from pop to rock and roll. Costumes provided by the team of "fabulous family volunteers" (with a little help from Renee Purdy of the Warner Theatre) must follow suit. "Go, Go, Go Joseph" had a sixties flair and the ensemble members played wives and Egyptians in colorful outfits.
The kids of all ages and heights in this large group always work together well. Jordan Elliott of Oakville said "thank you very much" as Elvis did as he played Pharaoh, clad in a cape and sunglasses. Casey O'Toole pf Watertown was the butler, Fiona Connolly of Middlebury played both the baker and Potiphar's wife, and Michael Meier of Oakville was a riot as Potiphar.
Joseph's brothers were played by some girls and sixth grader Kennedy Morris as Reuben sang the lead flawlessly on the country-western flavored "One More Angel in Heaven." Young Jason Harris of Watertown played the little brother Benjamin and at the other end of the birth order was Christopher McCaffrey, a freshman at Kaynor Tech HS, who played brother Dan. Other brothers included Lexi White, Robbie Altamirano, Rachel Altamirano, Shivaun Matthews, Molly Connor (Smee in 'Peter Pan' at Great Oak Middle School,) Julia Lind, Nicole Flemming and Claire Roberts.
Oakville resident Christopher Pilitowski, a sophomore at Kaynor Tech in his thirteenth production, did a great job in the role of Joseph. He sang "Close Every Door" with heartfelt intensity while backed by the chorus and it sounded great. Brandon Arnold, of Oakville, a senior at Sacred Heart HS in Waterbury, was convincing as Jacob, the father of Joseph. The important role of the Narrator was shared by Middlebury's Emily Lind and Marley Thompson, with the teens singing together the lyrics that move the story along. Because the girls were perfectly in synch, it worked.
The entire Nancy Marine was turned sideways in its space before the recent production of 'Avow' and it felt.....weird. However, I had a great view from my seat on the aisle and all the technical aspects seemed to have survived the move quite nicely. Change is hard.
The ubiquitous T.J. Thompson, sporting a fez, was the excellent music director and played keyboard in the onstage pit. Julian White played flute, Ciara Connolly covered percussion and Barrett Wong and Ben Moffa played cello. The unfussy set was designed by Bill McKenna and Timothy McCaffrey.
The final performance of 'Joseph' will be on Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm. Curtain Call Kids will be presenting 'Shrek The Musical' as their summer performance.
Pictured: Some of Joseph's eleven brothers in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' by Curtain Call Kids Photo by Kerri Morris