L.V. Rogers student Quinn Barron didn’t realize the depth of nostalgia many Nelson residents feel for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat until he was cast as the lead.
“There’s a gravitas to this production because so many people who have approached me have said ‘this is my favourite childhood show’ or ‘I love it every time I see it’,” Barron said. Starting Thursday he’ll be traipsing across the stage to belt out Andrew Lloyd Webber classics, and he takes that privilege very seriously.
As part of Nelson’s Summer Youth Theatre program, Barron is only one member of a diverse cast that features a number of familiar Nelson faces, including Emma Chart, Julia Halbert, Michael Marsland and multiple members of the youth choir Corazón.
It’s Barron’s third go-round in the program after appearing in Mary Poppins and The Secret Garden, but this is easily his biggest role yet.
The production recounts the Bible story of Joseph, a young boy sold into Egyptian slavery by his siblings before dodging a royal seduction attempt, having fantastical dreams and striking up a relationship with the pharaoh. Bringing it all to life involves three directors—Geoff Burns, Lynette Lightfoot and Allison Girvan.
Not to mention the kids put in three solid weeks of rehearsals.
“The process is quite difficult because we demand constant attention to detail and energy, and that’s hard for anyone Monday to Friday 9 to 5. They always have to be on,” Lightfoot said. “Quinn is amazing, though. He’s super talented and his energy and focus have been admirable.”
And though the strengths he’s showcased in the past were primarily singing and acting, Lightfoot said Barron’s really stepped up his dance game.
“Quinn has been dancing with me all year. All the spins he does are second nature now, because he’s been doing ballet as well as dance with Jen MacMillan at the high school. He moves so naturally—we tell him what to do, and he does it.”
She believes he’s grown exponentially as an artist.
“He has that work ethic. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t work at it, you won’t go anywhere. And he has it.”
Her favourite song is at the end of Act 1, when Joseph is imprisoned.
“Quinn comes out with a raw passion in the song. There’s a combination of passion and the technical singing that’s just mesmerizing. The other students always rush out to the audience to hear it.”
And musical director Allison Girvan believes audiences will be blown away, even if they’re already familiar with Barron’s talent.
“His potential is starting to make itself manifest. This year he’s really honed some of his skills, so when my son Gabriel Macdonald who’s in theatre school came to rehearsal he remarked on the growth he’s seen in Quinn. It’s been monumental.”
She also praised the two narrators, Julia Halbert and Emma Chart, as well as the entire cast.
“The whole cast brings an eclectic mix of strengths and quirks to the production. Really I couldn’t imagine this production without each and every one of them.”
Barron is going into Grade 12 at L.V. Rogers, and plans to apply to attend theatre schools in New York City. He wants to explore both live theatre as well as film and TV, and he believes his experiences onstage this summer will be invaluable.
“It’s something that, although it’s extremely difficult at times and performing can be absolute hell for a while, it’s something you can’t live without. Every day after rehearsal you have this amazing release. It’s like you’re doing something you were meant to do.”
Also, he believes theatre can be a powerful tool for social change. Barron was involved in the 24-hour environmental sit-in at L.V. Rogers earlier this year, and is a member of their high school environmental group Project Beginnings.
“I love how theatre can be used for social justice and change in the world, and that’s really important to me. Yes, you’re helping people escape their daily lives for an hour or two but theatre art is also an incredibly powerful tool in this world.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat opens this Thursday.