'Joseph' national tour features Hanoverian
Britnee Byers grew up falling in love with dance performance.
The daughter of the Hanover School of Ballet's director, Byers, 23, took her first dance floor steps at age 3 and never looked back.
Now a multi-talented performer, she will return to her roots as she makes her national Broadway tour debut.
Byers will play the role of Mrs. Potiphar in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which debuts Monday at Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York. The show is a re-imagining of the Biblical tale of Joseph, his 11 brothers and the coat of many colors.
"It's been one of my dreams," Byers said of her national tour debut. "I didn't think it would happen this fast to be honest. I'm really thankful for it."
Byers grew up in Hanover and graduated from Susquehannock High School in Jefferson in 2010. She left Pennsylvania to pursue a degree in dance performance at Oklahoma City University, where she honed her singing and acting skills. The university is the alma mater of numerous multi-talented performers, such as Kristin Chenoweth, said Byers' mother, Deborah Blume-Byers of Spring Grove.
"When (Byers) graduated, she won the award of most outstanding dance performance major," Blume-Byers said. "Her professors told her that she would be the next big thing."
After graduating college, Byers hit the ground running and started auditioning for shows in New York City.
Landing her role in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was a bit of an accident. Byers, accompanied by her mother and her grandmother, had set out to audition for several shows. Her mother found out about the contemporary musical's audition and encouraged Byers to give it a shot. She was hesitant at first because it included hip hop dancing, which isn't her favorite type of performance.
"I saw it in 'Backstage,' a magazine that posts all kinds of auditions," Blume-Byers said. "It just fit right in the schedule, and I told Britnee, 'Look, give this a try. It can't hurt anything.'"
Her mother's intuition proved to be true. She received a call back two days later to do the performance all over again, and her hard work paid off when she nabbed her role in the ensemble.
As Mrs. Potiphar, Byers is tasked with seducing Joseph and persuading him to go against his morals.
"It's kind of like a set-up," she said. "I get him in trouble."
It's a challenging role for Byers, who doesn't really consider herself a seductive person.
"I'm more goofy, so I kind of have to put a different face on and pretend I'm someone else," she said. "It's fun though."
The themes and messages in the musical are many. Byers most appreciates its focus on honesty.
The national tour, which continues through May, has taken Byers all over the country to theaters both large and small. Her ultimate career goal, though, would be to live in New York City and perform on Broadway.
"I've already done theme parks and cruise ships," she said. "My goal ever since I was little was to be in New York."
Outside of performing, Byers' ideal job would be in zoology.
"I love elephants, so whatever gets me closest to those," she said of her post-dance career aspirations.
Watching her daughter build her performing arts career is thrilling for Blume-Byers, who has operated the Hanover School of Ballet for more than 20 years.
"Being a performer is her love, and she's lucky to be able to be on a stage every night and be in a different city," she said. "Tour life can be difficult, but the reward at the end of each day, being on stage and giving that gift to the audience, is a wonderful thing."
Some say teaching your own children can be hard, Blume-Byers said, but it's been a joy for her. Ashlee Byers, 18, the youngest daughter of three in the family, also has a budding career in the performing arts. No matter what path her children choose, be it dance or not, Blume-Byers said she will always support them.
"As long as they're happy, then I'm absolutely thrilled," she said.
If you go
What: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15
Where: Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York
Tickets: Visit mystrandcapitol.org or call 717-846-1111.