COAL CITY — Backstage in the Coal City High School auditorium, Pat Halloran put on his wig and beard.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s just nonstop action and dancing.”
Halloran will play Jacob in the Small Town Theatrics production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which runs Friday through Sunday — with a special VIP performance Thursday — at Coal City High School.
At a dress rehearsal Monday evening, Halloran displayed a side of himself he doesn’t typically show in his day job as superintendent of Morris Community High School Dist. 101.
He danced, he sang, he cried out — all while clad in the iconic characters’ earth-toned robe and long gray hair and beard.
“It’s really great playing the father to this group of sons,” Halloran said. “It’s kind of a fun role to play.”
Halloran is no stranger to performance.
As a high school student in Dwight, he did several plays and was even in a garage band called Mountain Chill.
Throughout his career — first at schools in Coal City, then in Morris — he has continued to participate in productions.
His most recent, with the Small Town Theatrics, was as the voice of the sinister plant in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“That was a lot of fun,” Halloran said.
He got involved in “Joseph” after being recruited by Jack Micetich, a social studies teacher at Coal City Middle School who plays the musical’s titular character, and Co-Director Jane Swinney.
They had been having trouble casting the role of Jacob — Joseph’s father who gifts him with the colorful coat.
“I said, ‘Call Pat,’” Swinney said. “I really saw him in this role. I knew he could do this.”
He accepted, and — between school board meetings and the other demands of his day job — found time to practice his role.
Practice began in early June, and Halloran attended as frequently as he could. On occasions he couldn’t, he practiced at home.
As Jacob, Halloran hits the right balance of honest emotion and over-the-top humor. His characters’ son, Joseph, is sold into slavery by his other sons and Jacob is told that he is dead.
Much of Jacob’s time on stage is spent in sadness — the trick for an actor is toeing the line between funny-sad (as when Halloran lets out a deep bellow at the mention of his son’s name) and sad-sad. It’s something Halloran does well.
“It’s been fun to be up on stage with him,” Micetich said. “He’s done a great job with the role.”
Part of that stems from the connection he shares with others in the production.
He and Swinney know each other from the days they both taught in Coal City. Swinney teaches chemistry at Coal City High School and directed Halloran in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Halloran also has a connection to Micetich, who also directs plays at Coal City High School.
Micetich’s grandfather, Halloran said, helped land him his first teaching job in Coal City.
“It’s kind of neat to see the success of people like [Micetich],” Halloran said. “I play his father in the musical, and it’s certainly not hard to get into that role.”
And for him, that’s been the best part of working on the current production: getting to share the stage with a great cast and crew.
“It’s a very impressive show,” Halloran said. “It’s a top-notch cast, crew. It’s very well done.”
Small Town Theatrics is a summer theater company that draws its cast and crew from the Grundy County area.
A full preview of the production will run in the Friday edition of the Morris Daily Herald.