At some point down the road, Dakota Moses will knock on doors as a full-time missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asking questions like “Where did we come from? Why are we here? and Where are we going?”
This month, the soon-to-be senior at Mead High School in Spokane will address many of the same topics on the stage of a legendary theater.
Dakota will direct and act in a production of “My Turn on Earth,” the well-known LDS musical on Monday, July 22 at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. The production, featuring a cast of five from the Spokane North Stake, will serve a fundraiser for Dakota’s mission.
Dakota, who has been part of over 20 stage shows between school, Church and Christian Youth Theater, maintains ambitious hopes for the event, now just over two weeks away.
“Of course, I hope for a sold-out show,” he said. “I hope that in coming to see ‘My Turn On Earth,’ that people will gain a stronger testimony and obtain a greater understanding of the gospel and the importance of love and family. With our goal of selling out the 700-plus seat theater, we would raise approximately $5,000 for my mission fund, and being that missions now cost just over $10,000, a sold-out show would help a lot.”
Written by Carol Lynn Pearson with music by Lex de Azevedo, “My Turn on Earth” premiered in 1977 and depicts the story of five friends as they travel from pre-earth life to mortality with a goal of returning to Heavenly Father. The story has been widely acknowledged as a modern-day interpretation of the Plan of Salvation.
“Not only is it only a cast of five, which makes things simpler, it is one of my favorite storylines,” Dakota said.
The remaining cast includes Tanner Hardy, Sierra Perrins, Paige Hardy and Whitney Moses. Meisha Patten (formerly Hemenway) of the Spokane East Stake is the choreographer while Jennifer Hardy is serving as the musical director. Jim Dibble and Kelli Perrins are handling the sound for the production. McKenna Moses is the lead for the stage crew and Emily LaPlante is overseeing the lighting.
“I’ve left a big portion of the learning up to the cast members, so we all have to learn the script on our own time,” Dakota said. “In rehearsals, we have been working on characterization, where to be on stage, as well as choreography.”
Dakota’s acting background includes appearances in plays like “Oklahoma,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Pirates of Penzance.” He has been part of 10 productions at The Bing Crosby Theater, a venue that was built in 1915 and once featured local singer Bing Crosby and his band “The Musicaladers” as the house band. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site has been known as the Clemmer Theatre and The Met before its latest incarnation as The Bing in 2006.
“For the past five years in Christian Youth Theater, The Bing has been my home away from home in a sense,” Dakota said. “I am comfortable with the space, and the cast is comfortable with the space. We know the venue, what it sounds like and where things are.”
One of the challenges in booking such a popular setting means little on-site rehearsal time. The cast will only have the morning and afternoon of July 22 to run through dialogue and the play’s 18 songs at The Bing. In the meantime, Dakota has enough to keep him occupied.
“Learning lines for one part in a show is one thing, learning an entire show, blocking (where actors stand on stage), coming up with costumes, sets, the venue, play rights, being in charge of other people’s characterization, as well as learning your own part including dialogue and solos in music can be a daunting task,” he said. “However, I am so grateful for such an amazing cast who all know what they are doing when they step on stage, and who all are hard workers who will put forth the effort in learning the script, music, and dances. They are an awesome group of youth, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Rhonda Moses, Dakota’s mom, says her son will bring the same sort of work ethic and dedication that have gone toward the fundraiser to his two-year mission.
“Dakota is a hard worker and has a huge heart,” Rhonda said. “He will be the kind of missionary that will not judge others. He will be patient and kind with those that he teaches.”
The local chapter of the BYU Management Society has helped with the promotion for “My Turn on Earth” by sending out weekly emails. Posters have also been put up in LDS chapels throughout the area and the event is being included in a number of ward bulletins. Organizers are hoping to build significantly on the current total of around 70 tickets sold.
“We are doing all we can to get the word out and yet I run into people every day that have not even heard that we are doing this,” Rhonda said. “Our goal is to have at least 400 people out of the 700 seats in the audience. That would be such a blessing. Even though it is only two weeks away I really do believe our goal is possible. It is going to be a great show! This much I know.”
Want to go?
“My Turn on Earth” will take the stage at the Bing Crosby Theater on Monday, July 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets purchased before July 22 are $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and students. Tickets on the day of the show are $12 at the door. Call Rhonda Moses for tickets or more information at 509-599-5572.