The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors is a familiar story to many, and this weekend at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Surry Arts Council production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” takes a musical spin on the traditional story, but at its heart, the story remains the same —a parable about enduring faith and compassion.
The musical tells the story of Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob. Joseph has the gift of prophetic dreams. He is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and then taken to Egypt, where he becomes the favorite of the pharaoh, and is on his way to becoming second in command. Even his jealous brothers grovel at his feet, and Joseph finally leads a reconciliation of the sons of Israel. The musical styles range from country-western to pop, rock ‘n roll, and calypso.
Director John Adams said that “everyone knows the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors from Sunday school and church” but this is more of a comedic opera, a “true musical, with all songs…”
“One of the great things about this play is that there is something in it for people of all ages,” Adams described. “It’s kind of like in animated movies, how they are entertaining for both adults and kids. Also, people may be interested to find out that the play was written by the same people who wrote ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’”
The cast is mostly male, which was a bit challenging, Adams shared, in terms of finding enough male singers to fill the cast. “We had a really great turnout for auditions, and found almost everyone we needed in the original process,” Adams said. “We did come up a little short in the number of guys, and had to keep looking for a number of weeks to find enough.”
Adams said he has enjoyed working with Stage Manager Kristie McMillian, who he previously directed in “A Christmas Story.” He was also impressed by the outpouring of community support, “not only to come out on stage, but also helping us behind the scenes.”
Costumes for the production are a nod to the original Broadway production, where the brothers in the play wore “groovy 70s overalls” instead of traditional robes, which is also a nod to traditional mountain culture. “Mary Planer, Mary Emily Cooke, and my wife Julie Adams, those three together have been making almost every costume we have. We maybe borrowed two or three, but everything else was put together and assembled by those ladies,” Adams said.
One aspect of the production of the musical Adams is proud of is the large number of teachers involved, on both sides of the curtain. “Teaching is near and dear to my heart,” Adams said.” “My sister is a teacher and my grandmother was a teacher, and I am in education as well. A couple of the lead actors in the play are teachers and we also have a number of retired teachers. I am really happy and proud of that.”
Adams was born in the Abingdon, Va., area and previously lived in Los Angeles, where he directed commercials. He now lives in Mount Airy and teaches at the film school of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is the third production he has directed for Surry Arts Council.
Performances of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” take place on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m., and Monday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available online through April 23 at surryarts.org or by calling 786-7998.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Cast and Crew
Joseph — Joshua Whitt
Narrator — Ally Coe
Jacob — Dr. Dale Simmons
Potiphar’s Wife — Rose Leonides
Potiphar and Dan — Tom Beckom
Gad and an Ishmaelite — Bob Keck
Benjamin — Will Wharton
Levi — Samuel Paul Senter
Asher — Tanner Mears
Isaachar — Elias Fernandez
Zebulon — Chip Pulliam
Reuben — Todd Gerber
Judah — Caleb Gerber
Simeon and the Butler — Scott Carpenter
Napthali — Morgan Harrison
Pharoah and a brother — Andy Atkins
Member of the chorus and a wife — Payton Moledor, Susan Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence, Pam Parker
A shepherd — Alex Bowers
Director — John Adams
Music Director — Mark Pilson (also directing the live orchestra)
Vocal Director — Patti Miller Fulk
Choreographer and cast member — Jim Shover
Costumes — Mary Emily Cooke, Mary Planer, and Julie Adams
Stage Manager — Kristie McMillan
Assistant Stage Manager — Betsy Manieri
Set Building and Design — Steve Welker and crew
Accompanists for auditions were Norma Johnson and Ellen Eich. Jane Tesh assisted with accompaniment at rehearsals.
Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.