A peek at a rehearsal of Teen Musical Theater of Oregon’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” promises a fast-paced, colorful visual and musical treat for kids and adults alike.
The cast features 37 teens who attend more than a half-dozen public and private schools, as well as several who are home-schooled, six TMTO alums and recent graduates, and local actor Collin Goldman.
With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is the story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis.
The 11th son of Jacob and obviously his father’s favorite, Joseph, played by Holden Jones, shows a talent for interpreting dreams and telling the future.
When he predicts his own future will include ruling over his brothers, they become jealous and sell him into slavery. Taken to Egypt, he correctly interprets dreams of the Pharaoh (played by Goldman) and rises to a great position of power.
The story’s lessons about jealousy, power and reconciliation are brought to the fore with dynamic music, an energetic cast, and up-beat presentation ... hardly a boring Sunday school lesson.
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3-4, Thursday and Friday, Aug. 9-10, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford. Tickets are $25, $15 for ages 22 and younger, and can be purchased at craterian.org, at the box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., or by calling 541-779-3000.
When “Joseph” was first produced in London in 1968, it was described as a 20-minute pop contata. It expanded and transformed into a major musical produced across the globe in diverse incarnations. Popularity led to a movie version, and to nominations for prestigious Tony, Drama Desk and Laurence Olivier awards.
TMTO’s production is “the Megamix edition,” which includes extended dance breaks and a five-minute concluding reprise of some of the favored songs. Orchestration is prerecorded, but all singing is done live by members of the cast.
The show has little spoken dialogue, it is sung almost entirely. Its family-friendly story, familiar themes and catchy music have resulted in many productions.
TMTO, part of Craterian Performances, first staged “Joseph” seven years ago. According to the newer production’s playbill, the 2011 show led cast member May Patridge on a six-year involvement with the youth theater group. Maddie Day counts this production as her 19th with the troupe. For Jackson Werner, Sidney Konziela, Trenton Long and Tucker Chestine, “Joseph” marks their TMTO graduation performances.
The age range for TMTO is 12 to 19. In order to anchor productions and give young cast members the opportunity to work with theater professionals, guest stars are used in principal roles.
“Joseph” director and choreographer Jaese Lecuyer was lured back to the Rogue Valley from his home in North Dakota by TMTO’s mission to “provide professional training and performance opportunities for cast members, and to produce professional quality, affordable, family-friendly entertainment.”
“TMTO provides youth with a unique life experience, regardless of whether they stay in theater,” he says. “‘Joseph’s cast is an awesome, energetic, hard-working group. They’re encouraging and supportive of each other.”
His biggest challenge?
“Keeping the beautiful, poignant story intact amidst the production flash and pizazz,” he says.
Lecuyer is no stranger to Southern Oregon audiences. A singer and songwriter from Canada, he’s performed solo and with many music groups in the region, including Jeff Pevar and Inger Jorgenson’s rock project LOVEBITE. He also directed and choreographed TMTO’s productions of “Shrek the Musical” and “Annie,” and his background in hip-hop, jazz and modern dance bring a contemporary vibrancy to this production of “Joseph.”
Associate director and choreographer Cailey McCandless cut her teeth on TMTO shows, and she’s staged many of the productions, leading the 2011 production of “Joseph.” She’s worked with Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.
Andrea Hochkeppel is vocal director for the show, Sue Quackenbush is costume designer, set design is by Andrew Youngblood, and lighting is by Brad Nelson.
“‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ is a story of family dysfunction, jealousy and rage, desperate acts, forgiveness and restoration ... themes we all likely live out on a daily basis,” says Stephen McCandless, executive director of Craterian Performances. “How wonderful to be reminded that, in the end, love can win if it’s what we choose.”
“We must always remember to hold onto our dreams,” Lecuyer adds.