You only need look up the biblical book of Genesis to get an idea of the turmoil and depth of human passions in the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” that will be performed in Princeton starting Wednesday, June 27.
But there’s much more. It is a sung-through musical, meaning everything is sung, even the words by the narrator. The music will be a recording provided by a professional studio musicians company called MT Pit, which has been used successfully before at PHS.
The location will be outside on a stage being built just west of the high school, between the building and the PHS athletic field. People will have to provide their own seating, either chairs or blankets.
Since everything will be open to the sky, tickets are good for any performance in case weather cancels a show. Tickets, which are being sold at Marv’s True Value, are general admission and are $10 for age 12 and older, or $5 for under 12.
The performance times will be June 27 and 28 at 7 p.m., and June 30 and July 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
PHS choral director Mark Potvin is the artistic director, Julie Moore and Erin Thompson are the production assistants, Sarah Ryan will direct the children’s choir in the musical and Lora-Jean Jones is the choreographer. Potvin notes that no one is getting paid except the professional choreographer, Jones, to put on the production. Net revenue from ticket sales will go toward the PHS choral trip to New York City next March.
The production will be the first venture of a new group called Princeton Music Education Association (PMEA). It is a support group for musical performances and music education in Princeton Public Schools grades K-12 and throughout the community, according to Potvin.
He explained in an interview last week that PMEA is replacing past and recent musical support groups such as band boosters and the various choir support groups. PMEA will work on fundraising and advocacy, he said.
PHS put on “Joseph” in the performing arts center in the spring of 2000. Nikki Goulet, PHS choral director at the time, directed the musical and it garnered an enthusiastic response in the community.
Potvin, who has been PHS choral director for about a decade since Goulet, says he has always wanted to put on “Joseph” in Princeton. He noted that he has emotional connections to “Joseph” going back to his youth.
Potvin was in middle school in Detroit Lakes when he “fell into” getting a ticket to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” when it was showing at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis.
When he got home late that night after seeing the musical, he was so “jazzed up” from the experience, he says, that he stayed up listening to a tape cassette of the musical score before going to bed.
The “Joseph” plot
Called “Joseph” for short, the musical is about the biblical Joseph who Jacob favors among his 12 sons. Joseph’s brothers become jealous and plot to kill him but decide instead to sell him as a slave to some Ishmaelites passing through.
Joseph ends up in Egypt as a slave to the wealthy Egyptian Potiphar. But the relationship goes sour when Potiphar wrongfully concludes that Joseph had obliged the romantic advances by Potiphar’s wife toward Joseph.
Potiphar has Joseph put in prison and while there, Joseph interprets the dreams of two fellow prisoners, a baker and a butler. He foretells that the butler will get back into the good graces of pharaoh, while the baker will be executed. Both come true.
Joseph eventually ends up in an exalted political position in Egypt and is asked to interpret the pharaoh’s dreams, which are – seven fat cows and seven skinny cows, and seven good ears of corn and seven dead corn ears. Joseph interprets them to mean seven years of feast in Egypt followed by seven years of famine.
When the famine is in force, the 11 brothers of Joseph travel to pharaoh for help and see Joseph but don’t recognize him, though Joseph knows who they are. Joseph uses a trick to set up one of the brothers, Benjamin, as an alleged thief to see if the other brothers will show mercy to defend Benjamin. Joseph had decided that if they don’t, he won’t forgive the brothers. When he sees the brothers defending Benjamin and pleading for mercy on him, Joseph explains, forgives the brothers.
Some history of
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music and Tim Rice wrote the lyrics for the beginnings of “Joseph,” in 1968, originally a 15-minute cantata for the Colet School in London. After Webber and Price found success with their rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar” a year later, they “reimagined,” in Potvin’s words, “Joseph,” to make it into a stage production in the early 1970s.
It has been performed through the decades since, even during stops in the Twin Cities. Donny Osmond was the Joseph character when it was there in 1993 and ‘94, Potvin saying it is unusual for a big star like Osmond to be in a touring company production of a hit musical.
The cast for the “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” coming up here in Princeton will include:
Narrator – Bailey Kampa
Joseph – Aaron Moore
Jacob – Dwight “Ike” Carlson
Joseph’s brothers will be played by Andy Walker, Potvin, William Soule, Domenic Fraboni, Eric Jaques, Tom Crawford, Ian Collins, Jay Hohlen, Matt Kreft, Kenney Iverson and Matt Girtz.
Potiphar – Charles Moe
Potiphar’s wife – Beth Hanson
Baker – Will Soule
Butler – Crawford
Pharaoh – Potvin
The chorus of wives will consist of Shania Halgrimson, Hannah Jenson, Erin Lindberg, Molly Logeland, Holly Maxwell, Kelly McClay, Libby Morton, Hannah Osborn, Molly Savage, Erin Thompson, Melissa Trunk, and Sophie Wagman.
The chorus will be comprised of Julie Moore, Beth Hanson, Donn Hanson, Angela DeStefano, Hannah Bernhardt, Alison Ellefson, Maureen Bartz, and Gabby Foede.
There will also be many children in the musical’s children’s choir to round out a cast of about 75, according to Potvin.
People have inquired why not have the production in the school’s performing arts center.
Potvin responded for this story by saying that if the weather is uncooperative, then it is “usually worth trying something like this once. If the weather turns out beautiful, he said, then having it outside is the best.
The musical has no night time scenery, so the sun is the main lighting needed, Potvin said, noting that the stage will face west and catch the late-day sun’s rays. “I know it is a leap of faith,” he said about the unpredictably of the weather. But then he added that Milaca has been running outdoor drama productions many years now, as have other places across the country including in Medora, N.D., for the Passion Play.
The rehearsals have been going on for “Joseph” since June 4 at Trinity Crossing, located across from Trinity Lutheran. The stage for “Joseph” will be two-tiered, with the floor in front being 18 inches off the ground and the back floor another 18 inches up. A gigantic open Bible prop will be on the stage in the early part of the musical, with an Egyptian pyramid taking up the back part.
Many should find the musical fun to watch and hear for a variety of reasons. It makes use of many musical styles including rock, calypso, go-go and country western. Also, many of he cast names should be recognizable for many as residents and PHS students and staff members past and present.
It is also a way to see a major story in the Bible with themes as old as time played out on a stage set up with a leap of faith where the weather could bring feast or famine.