When Limelight Performing Arts in Gilbert produced “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 2016, the show earned a slew of honors including the National Youth Arts award for “Outstanding Production.” Six years later, the theater is reprising the show.
The musical will be on stage at the Mesa Arts Center and will feature an epic cast of nearly 50 performers ages 6-21 – including 17 kids and teens from Gilbert.
Set in biblical-era Canaan and Egypt, “Joseph” brings the age-old story of Jacob and his sons to vibrant new life. When Jacob gives Joseph a magnificent coat of many colors, his 11 brothers become so consumed with jealousy they sell him into slavery in Egypt.
But because of Joseph’s prophetic gift for interpreting dreams, he ascends from lowly house slave to Pharaoh’s key advisor – and soon redeems the brothers who betrayed him.
Despite its weighty themes, the production is upbeat, light-hearted and full of comic relief. It features colorful characters and costumes, modern choreography and a range of music and dance styles – from a country-western hoedown and calypso to bubble-gum pop and a Pharaoh who sings Elvis.
“It’s colorful, inspiring and so funny,” said Limelight’s artistic director, Emma England, who, along with Marie South, is directing the show.
Ava Chiappetta, 13, is having a great time with her role. “There are lots of hilarious moments that the audience will love,” the Gilbert girl said.
“Being in the ensemble gives you an opportunity to be in multiple numbers throughout the show,” she said.
Catherine Curtis, 17, also is part of the ensemble.
“One of the hardest things in the show for me is the dancing,” she said. “It’s not my strong suit, but it is something I’m trying to get better at and this show has the perfect opportunity.”
Added Liam Delgado, 19, who plays the role of Jacob’s second son, Simeon. “The hardest part is the song ‘Joseph’s Dreams’ because the brothers have a dance break that is challenging because it is very fast.”
The 90-minute production indeed is demanding, as every word in the musical is sung, every scene is choreographed, and every performer plays a key part in bringing the story together.
“The ensemble is central to this production,” said South. “Most productions rely on a couple of leads to carry the show, but ‘Joseph’ isn’t like that. Every person on stage is important to the story, and that means every one of our performers needs to be a true triple threat.”
Liam said, “I wanted to participate in this show because it has actually been a childhood favorite,”
Added Zach Wiles, 16: “I love being in musicals, and this musical has always been a family favorite. Getting to do it with my two older sisters who are leaving for college soon has been an amazing experience.”
Mia McFarland, 17, was part of the children’s choir when Limelight staged “Joseph” in 2016. This time around, she’s one of the narrators and enjoys the opportunity to hone her craft.
“My favorite part about the rehearsal process is getting to work with my friends and put together a show while also making fun memories,” she said.
Zach feels the same way.
“The thing I’ve enjoyed most about this musical is the connection that’s been created between the brothers. It feels like real brothers,” he said. “It’s so much fun to be at rehearsal because it’s so much fun to hang out with them!”
The directing team and cast are fine-tuning every aspect of the production.
“We threaded color through every aspect of this show,” said South. “For example, many of our set pieces look beige on the surface, but they’re lit from within and bring out that technicolor quality when we turn the lights on.”
They all are eagerly anticipating opening night – though they’re split on what the audience will enjoy most.
Mia said, “I think the audience will like the dancers the most. They work really hard to make the dances look clean and it will look amazing when it is put on stage.”
Catherine added, “Andrew Lloyd Webber is well known for all the musicals he’s made, and this is another amazing show. The songs are catchy and fun and get stuck in my head way too much.”
No production of “Joseph” would be complete without a Children’s Choir.
“I love singing and dancing and being on stage with my friends,” said 8-year-old Gabriella Montufar. “With the Children’s Choir, it’s like we are the background singers and dancers who react to the story and make it so other kids can understand, too.”
The choir pops in and out of the world and story of “Joseph,” singing along and adding new layers to every scene and song.
“At the heart of this show is a powerful message of love and unity that will resonate with children and adults,” said England. “The cast’s hard work and incredible passion will be evident in the top-notch quality of this performance.”
Gilbert children and teens in the cast include: Ava Chiappetta, 13; Catherine Curtis, 17; Liam Delgado, 19; Amy Dubin, 18; Paige Erdmann, 15; Jordan Gingell, 17; Kali Kappes, 7; Mia McFarland, 17; Dominic Montufar, 6; Gabriela Montufar, 8; Addison Roundy, 13; Adele Simone, 16; Kaitlyn Woodward, 16; Meredith Woodward, 18; Claire Willes, 19; Emma Willes, 21; and Zach Willes, 16.
Tickets for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” are $16 plus box office fees and are available at the Mesa Arts Center box office, at MesaArtsCenter.com keyword “technicolor,” or by visiting ll-pa.org. Group discounts are available.