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Jasmin Richardson, a senior at Abilene Christian University, brings her powerful voice and graceful presence to the role of the Narrator in the FTC production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starting this weekend. Photo by Phil Houseal

The Fredericksburg Theater Company presents Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat nine times over the next two weekends. For times and tickets: Go online at www.fredericksburgtheater.org; call 888-669-7114 toll-free or 830-997-3588; or stop by the box office, 306. E. Austin St., Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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An "Amazing" Performer

by Phil Houseal
June 25, 2008


In the Fredericksburg Theater Company's production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that starts this weekend, the lead role will feature an actor who used to be painfully shy and could not sing.

"When I was little, I could not sing at all," confessed Jasmin Richardson, who plays the Narrator in the popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. "My mom said I could not hold a tune. But I really loved to do it. As I got older, my voice gradually came along."

Richardson, who admits to still being shy, certainly can sing now.

Milton Buckelew, President of the FTC Board, figured that out the first time he saw her perform. He, artistic director Jeryl Hoover, and costumer Ruth Ann Hoover traveled to Abilene Christian University to watch a student production of Aida last October.

"Within 10 minutes Jeryl looked over at me and asked, 'What is this girl doing here?'" Buckelew said. "When Jasmin came out on stage, she was just fabulous. She was so graceful, and had that powerful voice and presence."

Hoover offered her a contract to perform in FTC's summer production. Despite having three other offers, Richardson chose to spend June in Fredericksburg.

Richardson, who plans to head for Broadway after graduation, did not even audition for her first show until she was a senior in high school. She landed the lead in The Wiz, and decided it might be a good idea to major in Musical Theater. She ended up in Abilene, a city she observes is far, far away from Houston, physically and culturally.

"My dad went to ACU, so I heard a lot about it when I was growing up," she said. "I visited the school and fell in love with it. It is very different from Houston. But I actually think I prefer it. If I were in the city I would want to do too many activities, and I would probably get myself in trouble."

In other words, Abilene might be considered a bit less "exciting" than Houston?

"Yes," she laughed, "so it's perfect."

Just then a gaggle of giggling girls surrounded Richardson. The young dancers and singers working in the musical find this 20-year-old talent fascinating, something the actor considers part of her role.

"In this business, you learn that the world is watching," she said. "If I pursue certain fields, I must be aware of what I do. My mom always made me think like that. I was raised a Christian so I have certain morals and values. I'm certainly not perfect, but especially in a setting like this, I realize this is my job."

Jeryl Hoover is also aware of the valuable role guest artists play in community theater. Not only do they "raise the bar" for local performers, they inspire in more personal ways.

"We look as much for personality and character as we do the talent," Hoover said. "What we want is for these young girls to be exposed to young ladies - who are not their mothers, and not their peers - who are extremely talented, and also wonderful people. Jasmin fits the bill really well."

For Richardson, it's about telling the story, both on and off stage.

"My goal was to come here, make some wonderful connections, enjoy myself, and just do a good show."