Jonah Rising

As we are a little over a month away from beginning rehearsals, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to prepare.

Ken Eklof's build on the left; Doug Ellis' design on the right.

Nineveh continues to rise in its non-descript warehouse in Orem. Ken Eklof & crew have completed construction of three of the four buildings and are well under way on the fourth. By this time next week, they should be working on building the boat.

Our search for Nineveh’s amazing dancers began last Saturday and continues today. We held open call auditions last week and saw about 25 dancers. Jason Celaya, our choreographer as well as Ryder, leader of the Rightsiders gang of Ninevites, taught a brief segment of dance that included elements of the actual dance the Ninevites will do as well as a mix of styles so that we could get a sense of the dancers’ overall versatility.

I’m in awe of dancers in general, being completely inept on the dance floor myself. How they manage to move so many different parts of their bodies in different ways at the same time, and then to be able to string together whole segments of these moves is completely beyond me.

I confess that until I started watching some of the new crop of dance shows on TV, I had considered dance to be beautiful as an art form, but lower down its ability to communicate. Like if a dance broke out in the middle of a musical, it was like hitting the pause button in the progress of the show, even though it might be entertaining. But since I’ve started watching these shows, with their amazing choreographers and dancers, my eyes have been opened to the ability of dance to powerfully convey emotion as well as move the story along.

That’s what we want for Nineveh, to be able to convey through song and dance how much that mighty city is struggling and – without knowing it – in need of a message that a reluctant Jonah can deliver.


Jason Celaya at work

The brief glimpse that we got of what Jason has planned for the Ninevites got me excited to see the whole piece. It will be a fun, yet powerful, part of this show. The opening number, so it has a bit of pressure on it. Very demanding on the dancers. Lots of hitting their moves hard and other complicated steps that I can’t begin to fathom. We have another dance audition today at a local dance studio, this one by invitation.

We’ve been auditioning a number of talented youngsters to play the roles of our modern-day children, and grownups for our other roles. This coming week, we’ll be going over the audition tapes and hopefully making some decisions on that front.

We shipped off the CD master for our special “original cast edition” of the soundtrack. Aaron’s done a great job with this show. We’ve asked a lot of him, and he’s worked and reworked these songs patiently for over a year, and I believe our audiences will find that all the hard work that went into these songs was worth it. (Some samples of his hard work available here.)

Found out this week that Ken bought a row of seats for opening night right in the middle of the theater. He wanted to get his tickets early so he could get his pick of seats. Wait, I asked, we have to buy our own seats? Dumb question to ask the producer, who told us in no uncertain terms that he bought his own seats and that means everyone has to buy their own seats. And because the SCERA charges the same price for every ticket, I realized I needed to get moving if I want good seats. (Suzanne, if you read this, could you go here and get us the best seats left for opening night? I’d like us to go if at all possible. Thanks, darling.)

Speaking of Jonah rising, Ken and I met this week with Jared Porter, who specializes in making people fly (doesn’t that seem like a cool job?). We met backstage on the set of another show rehearsing up in Salt Lake City, where an angel needs to fly on stage. Harnesses, wires, pulleys, counterbalances – all these work together to accomplish the magic necessary in the absence of any stores around here with an adequate supply of pixie dust. One might wonder why our production of “Jonah & the Great Fish” would need to make someone fly. One might also be able to guess. But I think I’ll save that for another time.

For now, off to another dance audition…