Technicolor may not have existed in Biblical times, but that’s part of the fun of Mount Douglas secondary’s latest theatre production.
The high school’s performing arts students are taking it back – way back – to the land of Canaan with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical retelling of the Old Testament story of Joseph. The 90-minute production (which runs April 27 to 30) holds a special place in the hearts of director Rachel Moss and music director Doug Awai, who each performed in it years ago.
“It’s a great musical – the music is fantastic, the characters are funny and it’s presented in such a fun way that we thought we’d have a great time doing it,” said Moss, who teaches performing arts at Mount Douglas.
The show stars seniors Natalie Fischer (as Joseph) and Aiden Guerreiro (pulling double duty as Jacob and the Pharaoh), both of whom have performed in Mount Douglas’s previous productions of Guys & Dolls, The Music Man and Once Upon a Mattress.
Arguably the most famous “favourite child” in history, Joseph draws the jealousy of his 11 brothers after telling them of his symbolic dreams, in which he is seemingly destined to rule over his siblings. They try to kill Joseph, but instead decide to sell him into slavery in Egypt.
The brothers trick Jacob into believing Joseph is dead by smearing goat’s blood on his tattered coat of many colours. In actuality, Joseph becomes the second most powerful person in Egypt after interpreting the Pharaoh’s dreams and predicting – and sparing them from – a seven-year famine.
“His brothers come to Egypt because they were struck by famine,” said Fischer. “They beg him for food and he eventually forgives them and they all reunite.”
Being musical theatre, the show is almost entirely sung through, and it offers a variety of genres, with sometimes hilarious results.
“There’s sort of a joke there because the Pharaoh’s the king, and the song he sings is in the style of Elvis,” said Guerreiro. “All of the songs are in different styles – there’s a French-style song, there’s a ho-down song, there’s a disco song – and they all collide in this one story set in times when this music wouldn’t have existed.”
Not even the narrators, freshman Annabelle Lindsay and junior Robin Dykes, are spared from speaking through song.
“There are some children that we have onstage and we’re basically telling the story to them,” said Dykes.
“With the music accompanying the narration, you get more of a feel to what’s happening in the story,” added Lindsay.
The students have been working on the production since October, readying for the five shows at the Spectrum Community School theatre.
“It’s amazing how much it gels when we get to the theatre,” said Moss. “As soon as you’re standing on a stage with the lights in your face and the sea of empty chairs in rehearsal, you get the feeling of being in theatre.
“As stressful as it is… as soon as it’s over, they’re like, ‘When’s the next show? What’s it going to be? Can we get the script in advance to study over the summer?’ These are really special kids and I feel really lucky to be working with them.”
The performance runs at 7 p.m. nightly from April 27 to 30, with a 2 p.m. matinée on the Saturday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students (including college and university), and free for kids five and under.
Tickets are available online at ticketrocket.co and may be available at the door on performance nights. Spectrum Community School is located at 957 Burnside Rd. W.