Back in 2010, Valley Musical Theatre executive director Tor Blaisdell saw a hole in the otherwise filled out musical theater scene in Ellensburg.

Adults had the VMT summer show, high school students had the high school shows and even elementary-age kids had programs through their schools. But the middle schoolers didn’t have any opportunities to grace the stage.

Every year since then, the Valley Musical Theatre Rising Stars have put on a show, this year being no different with a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

The classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical debuts at 7 p.m. Friday in the Morgan Middle School Performing Arts Center, and also runs at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday as well as 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Rising Stars program started not only as a way to introduce more kids to acting, but just as a way to give students another outlet for expression.

“By the time you get to middle school, if you think ‘Hey maybe I’ll try baseball’ – it’s too late,” Blaisdell said. “I don’t see it as making future actors — sure if we do that’s awesome — but it’s teaching kids to feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

One unique thing about this show is the ticket prices. Thanks to a grant from the Ellensburg Arts Commission, tickets are $3 for students and seniors and $5 for adults. They can be purchased online at www.valleymusicaltheatre.com or at the door.

“I would like to tell you my only virtue is I want people exposed to live theater, but I also want these kids to have an audience … frankly, they’re really good,” Blaisdell said. “That grant has been just awesome.”

The VMT Rising Stars program does have a small tuition, but also offers scholarships to anyone who needs it.

Throughout the years, the Rising Stars shows have used simplified versions of Broadway shows, which come with CDs the students can practice to. This year, they’re doing the real deal.

A few adjustments have been made, including changing a few of the key signatures to better suit the singers, as well as not attempting some of the more complicated eight-part harmony arrangements.

“We only had five weeks to put this together, but the kids have just been unbelievable,” Blaisdell said.

‘ECLECTIC’ CREW

Blaisdell described his group of behind the scenes crew as “eclectic,” pulling from a variety of sources including Central Washington University and even Ellensburg High School for some musicians. The band is a four-piece rock band with drums, piano, electric guitar and bass guitar.

“Once the kids hear the drums, there’s the beat for them. It’s right there,” he said.

As with producing all live theater shows, sometimes the director’s vision is more grand than the budget allows.

“I had the vision, and my eyes are always bigger than my stomach,” Blaisdell said with a laugh. “The parents have been unbelievable on this show. The things you’ll see, the things they built — they did all of that.”

This also is the Rising Stars first production back at Morgan, which allows for a lot more breathing room when it comes to the giant set pieces.

Another one of those set pieces Blaisdell is particularly excited about is the sheep, being played by local second and third graders.

“I got insanely cute sheep hats with little horns, it’s ridiculous,” Blaisdell said with a laugh. “When you’re working with middle schoolers for four weeks, it’s amazing how compliant second and third graders are. I’d tell them to do something and they do it right away. What is that about?”

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