Expect fireworks, literally, at Huntley's 'Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'

Marlowe Middle School musical to make use of new Performing Arts Center technology

“Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will live up to its name at Marlowe Middle School’s upcoming production, say those involved with the musical.

That means a display of “amazing technicolor,” of course – intelligent moving lighting fixtures, the use of LED pixels, winches for automated flying scenery and state-of-the art pyrotechnics.

The technology is all new at Huntley High School’s Performing Arts Center, where Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills will perform “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” March 17-18.

“As far as an audience member coming here, you’re going to kind of see almost like a rock show in a way, lots of beams of light and smoke and colors and excitement,” said Nathan Knapke, the technical director both for the Performing Arts Center and the upcoming production.

The show’s all about color, he said. He and others at Huntley High School have worked for the past couple of years to upgrade the equipment at the center, which is 14 years old, he said, and that included advancements in technology.

When Knapke first started, the center had about 20 lighting fixtures, many in need of maintenance, and about seven working lapel microphones. It now has 14 intelligent moving lights, about 50 conventional fixtures and 32 lapel microphones.

The moving lights allow crews to make scene changes in seconds, Knapke said. And as of this year, they have the means to make scenery literally fly onto stage through the use of winches, he said.

Plus, Knapke became certified to use indoor pyrotechnics. What does that mean?

“There’s a moment in the show where we shoot some fireworks off essentially, all legal of course,” he said.

About 10 high school students make up a technical crew for the show, serving as lighting operators, backstage runners, audio playback operators and special effects operators.

The efforts become a learning experience, Knapke said.

With the set including a 40-foot-wide Egyptian pyramid adorned with detailed hieroglyphics and stylized paintings, a desert water-well, a golden chariot, 14-foot towers and a 7-foot flying pharaoh’s head, those working on building and painting the scenery had quite an experience as well.

“This crew, they’re a very special bunch to me,” Knapke said.

The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 17 and 7 & 3 p.m. March 18. Tickets are $5 and can be bought at the door or in advance at

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