‘Joseph’ livens up Elgin theater season
By Chris Peterson For Sun-Times Media September 20, 2012 12:30PM
Jacob Groth stars in Fox Valley Theatre Company’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Techicolor Dreamcoat.” | Courtesy of Fox Valley Theatre Company
‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’
♦ Sept. 21-30
♦ Elgin Community College Arts Center, 1700 Spartan Drive Building H, Elgin
♦ Tickets, $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors
♦ (847) 622-0300
The story of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is one of the most familiar in musical theater, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t have some new twists. The Children’s Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company are bringing some interesting updates to the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, which is a retelling of the Biblical story of Joseph and his jealous brothers. The production, directed and choreographed by Andy Bero, opens tonight at the Elgin Community College Arts Center and runs through Sunday, Sept. 30.
Producer Steve Olsen said “Joseph” was chosen as part of the Children’s Theatre of Elgin’s 25th anniversary celebration. The troupe looked at popular shows it had staged in the past for inspiration, and its production of “Joseph” from about 12 years ago was one of its biggest successes.
However, the production won’t be a simple rehash of what was done before, Olsen said. Along with updated sets and a larger cast, the production features some innovative new ideas. “We’ve tried to inject some things that are more current for the kids today and still stay true to the material,” Olsen said.
Although Olsen said he wanted some of these features to be a surprise, he did reveal that the revamped sets would include a large screen that will display custom-made videos to enhance certain points of the show. “The videos will be there to accent what they’re doing in the show at that point, so when they’re crossing the desert there will be desert scenes,” Olsen said. “It’ll emphasize what the song is about at that point.” The production also features a talented cast made up of young actors from second grade all the way through high school, Olsen said. The title role of Joseph is played by Jacob Groth, who also appeared in the Fox Valley Theatre Company’s 2009 production of “Children of Eden.” The role of the over-the-top Pharaoh will be played by Colin Bokony, who recently appeared as the lead in the company’s production of “Bye Bye, Birdie.” Taking on the role of the narrators will be Jocelyn Vanderwell, who played Tracy Turnblad in the company’s 2010 production of “Hairspray,” and Tessa Dettman, who most recently appeared in the company’s 2011 production of “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Olsen said this production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” not only features a number of returning veterans from past Children’s Theatre of Elgin and Fox Valley Theatre Company productions, but more than a handful of new players, as well. Thanks to the company’s long tradition of performing in the region, Olsen said, it attracts talented young people from as far north as Algonquin and as far south as North Aurora. The children’s chorus numbers 25, and Olsen said the production features a number of sibling teams performing together.
“When they say it’s a family-friendly show, we have a number of families involved in this,” Olsen said.
With a number of extremely memorable songs in a wide variety of styles, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” features a little something for everyone, Olsen said. From the classic “Any Dream Will Do” to the rockabilly “Song of the King” to the energetic “Go, Go, Go Joseph,” the show promises to be a good time for all ages, and Olsen said that’s exactly why the company is excited to be staging it.
“It’s a fun show, the music’s really light,” Olsen said. “People remember the music and they’ve seen the show a number of times and they’d like to see it again.”
The family-friendly experience will continue once “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” finishes its run. Olsen says the Children’s Theatre of Elgin and the Fox Valley Theatre Company have started rehearsals for “Peter Pan,” which will be presented at the Hemmens Cultural Center Oct. 26-28.