Meet Music Director, Dakota Simpson and Choreographer, Katie Hale.
Dakota Simpson – A Fresno native, Dakota has been the vocal director for 16 musicals now and is coming upon his 20th year of life. Dakota is currently a Freelance Musician and Composer in Fresno. Acting Credits include: Lord Farquaad (Shrek), Bert (Mary Poppins), Wilbur Turnblad (Hairspray), Ugly (Honk!) And will be playing Igor in Reedley this summer!
Katie Hale– Born and raised in Fresno, California, began taking tap classes at the age of six. Flashing forward to age fifteen, she had risen to become the lead rhythm tap teacher at California Arts Academy, as well as teaching classes in jazz and creative movement. By eighteen, Katie had successfully choreographed for a variety of shows and ages, and in styles including ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. In 2015, Katie graduated cum laude from Fresno Pacific University with two BAs in English and History. Upon realizing that dance was something she couldn’t let go, she returned to her calling as a dance teacher. Katie currently works at Break the Barriers as a ballet and gymnastics coach and is celebrating her tenth year as a dance teacher in Fresno.
We asked Dakota a few questions…
Had you ever heard of the musical HONK! before?
Yes I had heard of Honk! before. It was my first musical in high school.
What drew you to the project?
What drew me to this project was the director, a one Mr. Joshua Taylor. And the inevitable nostalgia attack, as well as being able to revisit this tale from a different point of focus.
What do you love about your cast?
I regard this piece as a fierce exercise in a British comedy. That being said, this cast (who are doubling and tripling roles like crazy) have made this piece their own in and remarkable way.
What’s your favorite song or what will be the audiences favorite song?
My personal favorite song in the show to play is Play with your food. It’s a wonderful piece of Sultry Jazz and Tom and Jerry Esque antics. The audience I believe will love Warts and All which is a pinacle Broadway Showstopper!
I hope everyone sees this show. And I know every director thinks their show needs to be seen but, this story is sweet, heartwarming and just plain hilarious! Just what people need for a couple of hours! It will definitely be the best part of your weekend!
Choreographer, Katie Hale-
What should the audience expect to see when they watch the musical Honk!
I think that the audience will be delighted to experience a fun and intimate show that really hits all the areas of comedy, heart, and drama. It’s just been a blast to put it together and work with such talented people so I hope the audience will catch onto our enthusiasm!
Are any of the actors animal characters reflected in the movement?
Absolutely! Especially for characters like Cat and Queenie, I wanted the movement to be very sultry and obviously catlike. You will definitely see some frog jumps in “Warts And All,” and for Penny in “Now I’ve Seen You,” I’ve taken almost all that choreography straight from swan lake, which is a great little Easter egg for ballet fans.
What drew you to the project?
Well JT actually approached me and asked me to choreograph the tap numbers first, and I jumped at the chance because my first love is tap. I’ve always had a strong passion for musical theatre and I feel that a show like Honk! is such a beautiful example of a musical with a message. I absolutely adore this show, and I’m proud that Honk! marks my debut as sole choreographer for a show.
What is your favorite part of the show, please elaborate.
I think that the act one finale, the reprise of “Hold Your Head Up High,” is my favorite part. Ugly is hopelessly lost, totally alone, and Ida is on her own as well, searching for him with almost no support from the other animals. In a moment where they have every reason to give up, they keep pushing through the obstacles and rely on intuition and trust, which is such a beautiful thing to me.