Written by Edith Updike, email@example.com Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:15
In celebration of Arts Week, Friends Academy middle schoolers put on a tremendous production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat—despite a rehearsal schedule two weeks shorter than in most years.
Ellis Collier of Glen Cove, as an Elvis-inspired Pharaoh, was a crowd favorite.
Thespians and techies from the middle school were supported in this festive musical extravaganza by upper school mentors and parents as well as faculty. Band teacher Jesse Tennyson brought a smidge of gravitas in the paternal role of Jacob. From a semi-secret lair offstage, FA parent Eden White on piano led the musical team of James Liverani (bass), Sam Towse (drums), Sara Alt (percussion) and Ray Matuzza (guitar).
But the kids were the stars. The three graceful narrators (Helena Ware, Sarah Weiner and Ife Anyokou) opened the show. Then Jacob, Joseph and all the also-ran brothers appeared. In short order, Joseph—played by Drew Donner of Old Westbury—got his fancy-shmancy coat and got sold to a trio of too-cool-for-school shepherds—Danny Dacosta, Joseph Lostritto and Miles Miller (who did double duty as jailers).
A detour through the home of Egyptian multimillionaire Potiphar and prison eventually lands Joseph in the Pharaoh’s palace, interpreting dreams for the troubled prince, an Elvis-inspired rock’n’roll ruler played by Glen Cove’s Ellis Collier. His brothers, starving, come to Egypt for food, where they must “Grovel, Grovel, Grovel,” unaware that their benefactor is their brother. A spurious accusation against the youngest brother, Benjamin (Glen Head’s Billy Duke), segues into a delightful calypso number (featuring Margaux Blau of Locust Valley), and Joseph and his brothers are reconciled, leading to a joyous finale.
The theatrical production was the cornerstone of Arts Week, during which middle schoolers are exempt from regular classes in favor of intensive, hands-on arts study under the direction of local artists. Some students took on creative printmaking with Allison Doherty; others tried pinhole photography with George Ensinger or woodworking with Marc Isaacs. Two courses tapped the power of digital tools: iPad Band and iPad Filmmaking. Kinetic arts were explored in African Drumming and Dance with Yahaya Kamate, an improvisation class led by Kristi Artinian, and a hip hop class with Camille Edwards.
It was a perfect send-off to spring break week, giving all the artists a chance at some well-deserved R&R.