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TMP music teacher finds summer gig with theater





His music career on hold long enough, Michael Brandel is back in the director's seat.

Brandel, who moved to Hays three years ago, is directing the Broadway musical "Oklahoma" for Heartland Community Theatre's 2012 summer production.

Working with "kids" of all ages will prepare Brandel for his next endeavor as vocal music director at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School.

TMP hired a second music teacher to help out longtime vocal and instrumental instructor Kathy Dreiling Amrein when it added seventh- and eighth-grade classes to its curriculum for the first time, beginning this fall.

Until then, Brandel will be busy rehearsing for "Oklahoma" -- set for mid-July -- and helping raise his six children.

Directing musicals was old hat for Brandel in 2009 when he was just finishing his eighth year as vocal music director at McLouth, a small town north of Lawrence where he was in charge of music, choir and theater for kindergarten through 12th grade in the McLouth school district.

"We even had a rock band class," he said.

Then, his wife, Jayne, who had just finished her doctorate degree at the University of Kansas, got a job in the communication disorders department at Fort Hays State University.

She was pregnant with the couple's sixth child when the family moved to Hays, so they decided Dad would go from primary bread winner to Mr. Mom.

Now, baby Lydia is almost 3 years old, and the oldest Brandel sibling, Tabitha, will be 12 in July. So Brandel is going to start working part-time outside the home again along with his stay-at-home dad duties.

Travis Grizzell, one of the community theater's board members, asked Brandel about being the director of the musical, one Brandel had directed before.

Brandel had worked as music director for Grizzell's last two musicals at TMP during the school year and liked what he saw.

"I hadn't been on stage since I've been in college," Brandel said. "It kind of got my feet wet again with Travis."

That gave Grizzell the idea to ask Brandel to direct the summer theater's production.

"He was chomping at the bit to try it again," Grizzell said. "He relates so well to kids, to people. He's exactly the right guy for this show."

Tickets for Heartland Community Theatre's summer production "Oklahoma" can be purchased by visiting www.hctks.com

The musical is set for 7 p.m. July 12 to 14 and a 2 p.m. matinee July 15.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children.