Thursday night, an hour before the curtain rose on Moffat County High School’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the dressing room was sweltering.
The humid air smelled of burning hair and glue-like sprays. In various stages of dress, students flitted around, daubing their eyes with bright make-up or adjusting microphones and costume pieces with a sheen of nervous energy shining in their eyes.
Girls tried to drink water without smearing their lipstick on the bottle, while stage hands played ninja in the wings.
In the dressing room, freshman Dakota Lee was working on her friend’s hair while she talked about what life would be like after the musical was over.
“I’m going to sleep,” she said. “We’re all sleep deprived. I’ve been doing my homework at lunch every day. A lot of us are (Mormon) and have to go to seminary every morning. I wake up at about 5:30 to 6 a.m. And I don’t get home until midnight some nights.”
But she said it with a smile on her face. She would have given up the last few months of hard work for anything.
Not the months of hard work for four-hour-and-fifteen-minute performances, nor the exhaustion or stress.
Next to her, senior Amanda Browning was standing by the mirror in a black leotard.
She said she’d always loved singing in church but was shy and confused in school.
“The first year I was really shy,” she said. “But I made a lot of friends that help me burst out of my shell. I would go in there and people would just come up to me and start talking. Most of the friends I have, I made here.”
Now a senior, she had tears in her eyes when she thought about her final night as a high school performer.
Director Dan Mullens said he remembered going into musicals and starting as a chorus member and working his way up, just as his students are now.
“It’s a real bonding experience for them,” he said. “Just to spend time with the same people, for hours a day. There are definitely a lot of comparisons to a sports team.”
Fourteen years old and a freshmen, Shea Snare walked into musical rehearsal, in awe of and intimidated by all of the older students and talented musicians.
She said if there was a corner, she was hiding in it.
Now, a year later, Snare is anything but shy, and credits the drama program with her ever-growing sense of self-worth.
“It’s gotten me more confidence,” she said. “I used to just be that shy kid in the corner. Now, I’m definitely not quiet. I know that when I come to my high school reunion, I’ll go right to my play friends.”
Dressed in a bright seventies-inspired costume, she and fellow sophomore Kellie Looper bounced in anticipation about the opening of the show.
“I used to be so quiet in school,” Snare said. “Now I find myself singing in the hallways, or tapping my feet along with ‘Go-Go Joseph.’”
Next to her, in a shiny, paisley dress, Looper had a similar story.
“When people found out I was in the musical, they we’re like, ‘That shy kid is in the musical?’” Looper said. “Once you get on stage, you’re someone else. You’re rocking out.”
In the lighting booth during Friday night’s show, Mullens watched his students with pride and the occasional note of a mistake or change he wants to make.
But even though he’s not on stage anymore, he’ll feel a sense of loss when the curtain drops for the last time.
“There’s a certain feeling like opening presents Christmas morning,” he said. “They’re all open, you know what you got. And it’s kind of a let down. You just go back to being a regular person.”