OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV)
A premiere of a kind was held Thursday night at Alberta Kimball Auditorium adjacent to Oshkosh West High School. Under the auspices of the Oshkosh Recreation Department, Jolly Jester Community Theater opened a weekend run of the jaunty musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Jolly Jester has been around for years as a youth summer theater offering. This production is the first to incorporate adults.
Given the material and the eagerness of the cast and the scope of energy unleashed, this venture is a hit.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is perfect for a large-scale youth-adult project. Children in a chorus are on stage practically the whole show. Teens are woven in to do their song-and-dance splashes. Adults range from twentysomethings to a long-time AARP card holder.
The show itself is clever, tuneful, funny and truly amazing as the story tells about a fellow who can interpret dreams, which gets him into and out of big trouble at the time of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt.
Historically, this musical set Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice into motion as creators of popular, big-time shows.
Director Tracie Schlaak and her creative collaborators inspire the company to embrace the luster the show offers. Notably, Joseph has 11 brothers, and each has a wife – so there are two football teams worth of action right off the bat. And the brothers do Joseph wrong out of jealousy because of his gift and his special place in the heart of dear old dad, Jacob, a patriarch in the book of Genesis. Wrong = toss Joseph into a well and tear up his coat of many colors, relent (minorly) and sell Joseph into slavery.
Notable elements in this production:
The music is recorded.
Scene changes are done by way of blackouts. Fairly swiftly.
The players – the leads, the various ensembles – generate a sense of fun.
Joseph is double cast. Thursday night was Trent Hoffman’s turn; he radiates confidence in his performance and warm voice. Alternating is Dillon Moore, whose luster Thursday was demonstrated in the comically tragic solo in the French cabaret-flavored “Those Canaan Days.” Hoffman and Moore trade the roles from performance to performance.
Also double cast are The Narrators, who weave throughout the story filling in background and setting the stage for Joseph’s next (mis)adventure. Thursday was the turn for Molly Schlaak (also the music director) and Tonie Yankowski (who has a gun of a voice). Alternating are Erin Harris and Alexandra Putzer.
Scenes with the brothers are full of hardy, laughable mischief. Sometimes the wives join in the rascality, as in “One More Angel (in Heaven)” that’s sung fake sad in front of Jacob (patriarch-like Jack Seville) and “Hoedown” that’s a whoop-dee-do celebration when Jacob looks away.
Scenes with the Pharaoh have built-in show-stopping sequences. As the Elvis Presley “double” Pharaoh, Jim Hart milks the scenes galore and, with screaming Adoring Girls assisting in “Stone the Crows,” generates gales of laughter the way a showman can. Because much of the company is also involved as singing/dancing Egyptians, this is community theater really, really clicking.
The finale, along with revisiting key songs, features a look. Everyone in the cast joins in “Megamix” dressed in white shorts and black T-shirts emblazoned with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” on the front. Chances are, these T-shirts will be proudly worn around town for a long time.
Creative: From the Bible: Lyrics – Tim Rice; music – Andrew Lloyd Webber; director – Tracie Schlaak; executive assistant to the director – Lorie Hadel; music director – Molly Schlaak; choreographers – Molly Schlaak, McKenna Hadel, Senja Sippert; stage manager – Justin Rohloff; lights – Tom Hanson; sound – Mckenzie Makurat, music – Tom Hadel; costumer – Tracie Schlaak
Cast (*Thursday/Saturday afternoon; +Friday/Saturday evening)
Narrator 1 – *Molly Schlaak/+Erin Harris
Narrator 2 – *Tonie Yankowski/+Alexandra Putzer
Joseph – *Trent Hoffman/+Dillon Moore
Jacob – Jack Seville
Jacob’s wife – Susan Sullivan
Jacob’s wife – Barb Zellmer
Jacob’s wife – Patricia Kopecky
Jacob’s wife – Linda Browlea
Reuben – Ben Morris
Reuben’s wife – Ann Pleiss-Morris
Simeon – Sam Schlaak
Simeon’s wife – Laurie Mollenhauer
Levi – Nick Lamers
Levi’s wife – Johanna Kopecky
Naphtali – Koy Peerenboom
Naphtali’s wife – Delaney Koch
Issachar – *Dillon Moore/+Trent Hoffman
Issachar’s wife – Liza Hawley
Asher – Gavin Connell
Asher’s wife – Senja Sippert
Dan – Micah Kopecky
Dan’s wife – Jaden Moore
Zebulon – Nolan Spanbauer
Zebulon’s wife – McKenna Hadel
Gad – Braden Cooper
Gad’s wife – Lydia Comstock
Benjamin – Ben Hansen
Benjamin’s wife – Rayna Jansky
Judah – Brendan Rohloff
Judah’s wife – Sam Hart
Canaan Days Solo – *Dillon Moore/+Trent Hoffman
One More Angel Solo – *Koy Peerenboom/+Micah Kopecky
Benjamin Calypso Solo – *Braden Cooper/+Brendan Rohloff
Potiphar – John Covach
Potiphar’s wife – Wendy Moore
Pharaoh – Jim Hart
Pharaoh understudy – Micah Kopecky
Butler – *Erin Baus/+Kate Farrell
Baker – *Karla Stark/+Emma Jansky
Ishmaelite – Jen Skinner
Ishmaelite – Jaci Cooper
Guard – Gabriel Palmer
Guard – Kailynn Marco
Adoring Girl – Olivia Baus
Adoring Girl – Jenna Mollenhauer
Adoring Girl – Addison Peck
Adoring Girl – Hadley Ruetten
Adoring Girl – Julia Skinner
Canaan Dancer – Katherine Femali
Canaan Dancer – McKenna Hadel
Canaan Dancer – Liza Hawley
Canaan Dancer – Delaney Koch
Canaan Dancer – Jenna Mollenhauer
Canaan Dancer – Jaden Moore
Canaan Dancer – Hadley Ruetten
Canaan Dancer – Senja Sippert
Go Go Joseph Soloist 1 – Barb Zellmer
Go Go Joseph Soloist 2 – Elizabeth Keliher
Go Go Joseph Soloist 3 – John Covach
Go Go Joseph Soloist 4 – Wendy Moore
Goat/Sheep – Tikva Kallio
Children’s Chorus – Elizabeth Clark, Andrew Comstock, Daniel Crowe, Riker Farrell, Sydney Farrell, Tikva Kallio, John Paul Keliher, Thomas McDowell, Michael Moreno-Gillstrom, Hallie Moreno-Gillstrom, Julian Morris, Addison Otradovec, Emma Polishinski, Vianna Raasch, Logan Taylor, Alex Taylor, Marlene Uwumarongie
Teen Chorus – Oliva Baus, Katherine Femali, Holle Harris, Elizabeth Keliher, Kailynn Marco, Jenna Mollenhauer, Gabriel Palmer, Addison Peck, Hadley Ruetten, Serena Scott, Julia Skinner, Evelynn Voss
Adult Chorus – Erin Baus, Linda Brownlea, Jaci Cooper, John Covach, Kate Farrell, Danyelle Flock, Erin Harris, Emma Jansky, Patricia Kopecky, Wendy Moore, Alexandra Putzer, Molly Schlaak, Jen Skinner, Karla Stark, Susan Sullivan, Tonie Yankowski, Barb Zellmer
Running time: Two hours, 5 minutes
Remaining performances: 7 p.m. Aug. 16 and 2 and 7 p.m. Aug. 17
Musical numbers (recorded)
Prologue/“Any Dream Will Do” – Narrators, Joseph, Children’s Chorus
“Jacob and Sons” – Narrators, Brothers, Wives, Ensembles
“Joseph’s Coat” – Jacob, Narrators, Joseph, Brothers, Ensembles
“Joseph’s Dreams” – Joseph, Brothers
“Poor, Poor Joseph” – Narrators, Brothers, Ishmaelites
“One More Angel in Heaven”/“Hoedown” – Solo Brother, Brothers, Wives
“Potiphar” – Narrators, Potiphar, Mrs. Potiphar, Joseph
“Close Every Door” – Joseph, Children’s Chorus
“Go, Go, Go Joseph” – Narrators, Soloists, Joseph, Baker, Butler, Ensembles
“A Pharaoh’s Story” – Narrators, Children’s Chorus
“Poor, Poor Pharaoh”/“Song of the King” – Narrators, Joseph, Pharaoh, Butler, Ensembles
“Song of the King” (Reprise) – Narrators, Joseph, Pharaoh, Ensembles
“Pharaoh’s Dream Explained” – Joseph, Ensembles
“Stone the Crows” – Pharaoh, Narrators, Joseph, Adoring Girls, Ensembles
“Those Canaan Days” – Solo Brother, Brothers, Jacob, Canaan Days Dancers
“The Brothers Come to Egypt”/“Grovel, Grovel” – Narrators, Brothers, Joseph, Adoring Girls
“Who’s the Thief?” – Joseph, Narrators, Children’s Chorus
“Benjamin Calypso” – Solo Brother, Brothers, Ensembles
“Joseph All the Time” – Narrators, Joseph, Brothers, Children’s Chorus
“Jacob in Egypt” – Ensembles
“Any Dream Will Do” (Reprise) – Joseph, Narrators, Jacob, Ensembles
“Close Every Door” (Reprise) – Joseph
“Megamix” – Company
THE VENUE: Alberta Kimball Auditorium is a 1,441-seat facility next to Oshkosh West High School, 375 N. Eagle St. Opened in 1963, the civic auditorium was designed by Perkins & Will (Lawrence Perkins and Phillip Will), a Chicago architectural firm with an international reputation; the firm exists today with 2,200 employees. The auditorium’s glass (exterior) and brick (interior wall) lobby is shaped in a huge “L.” For the theater’s structure, think of an indoor amphitheater with a fan for a ceiling. A sweeping field of vision focuses on the proscenium (flat-front) stage that is raised three feet above the sloped floor. The approximately 60 by 40-foot stage features a red curtain and beige brickwork on either side; as walls extend out, the look becomes cream plain, vertical cement block to cream cement block with an angled wave pattern to black curtain (for acoustical needs). The ceiling includes three stepped sections. Toward the back of the hall, the “fan” is white with inset lights in the flat surface. The middle “fan” has alternating spaces in the ceiling tile pattern, with some opening for theatrical lighting. Near the stage, a rectangular structure with a brown edge is suspended; it also has alternating spaces in its ceiling tile pattern for theatrical needs. In the seating area, the dominant colors are cream, gray and tan. The cream is in the floor tile, which includes gray/tan flecks. The gray is in metallic seat backs. Tan is in the fabric seat bottoms and backs, wooden arm rests and carpeting along aisles. The space says “spacious.”
THE PERSON: Alberta S. Kimball (1906-1996) was an entrepreneur as president of the Miles Kimball Company (noted for Christmas cards and household items) from 1949 until its sale in 1980 and as mover-and-shaker for other business ventures. A philanthropist, Alberta Kimball’s foundations have supported many civic enterprises.