Take a biblical story, add fantastic music and lyrics to generate high energy, and you know the show — “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
It’s the story of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph, whose dreams that foretell the future antagonize his 11 brothers who sell him into slavery.
The brothers became jealous of Joseph when their father gave him a coat of many colors. They also feared his gift of interpreting dreams would give him power over them. After Joseph was taken to Egypt by desert men, the brothers showed Jacob his son’s bloody coat and told him Joseph had been killed.
The show, featuring the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tom Rice, opened Friday at The Theatre in the Park.
Guy Gardner, who is directing his first show at The Theatre, is enjoying a dream of his own.
“My dream has been to direct a show at The Theatre in the Park since I was 16 years old,” Gardner said. “When I was a kid The Theatre in the Park was my Broadway.”
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ is a high energy, fast-paced show that is visually appealing, with beautiful music,” he said. “It’s all singing, no dialogue. After I researched it, I knew Dreamcoat was perfect for my directing debut” at the park theater.
The show has a large cast of 62 youngsters in the children’s chorus and 29 adults in various roles including back-stage duties. The cast ranges in age from 8 to 44.
In addition to directing, Gardner also choreographs the show.
He graduated from Lansing High School in 2006, bypassed college and went to work for the Walt Disney Co. at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“It was a tremendous learning experience,” Gardner said. “I gained an understanding of every aspect of theater including performing, directing, choreographing, design and more.”
Gardner has been active in Kansas City area theaters in all those aspects since moving to Overland Park in 2010. “I try to bring something new and exciting to each project,” he said.
Wesley Geil portrays Joseph. Geil, 19, was homeschooled in high school and attended Longview Community College last year. This fall he will attend Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, N.J. and major in musical theater.
“I decided to audition at The Theatre in the Park this year after a friend who’s been in shows there told me it was a fun time,” Geil said. “He wound up in “A Chorus Line” and I was chosen to play Joseph so we both got to perform at The Theatre. I’m glad I got Joseph. It’s a good role and the music is great.”
Geil played one of the brothers in “Joseph” at the Christian Youth Theatre in 2008, so he was familiar with the show.
“I started performing at that theatre when I was 10,” said Geil who lives in Grandview.
Joseph’s father, Jacob, is portrayed by Trevor French. “Jacob is an interesting character. He seems a little strange sometimes but he’s sensitive and has a good heart,” French said.
French, who lives in Kansas City, saw the show at The Theatre in the Park in 2003 and fell in love with it.
“It’s a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and the music is wonderful at every turn,” French said. “It’s fun. Guy is a great director.”
When Joseph gets to Egypt, he becomes the slave of Potiphar, a millionaire, and his wife. Joseph rises through the ranks of slaves and soon he’s running Potiphar’s household.
David Thompson plays Potiphar and his wife, Celia Thompson, plays Potiphar’s wife. All goes well until the wife begins making romantic moves on Joseph. He rebuffs her but Potiphar is outraged when he sees them and has Joseph thrown in prison.
Celia and David met while performing at The Theatre in the Park. They married in 2010 and have a daughter, Tenley, 3. They live in Olathe.
David also doubles as Reuben, Joseph’s older brother. “This is the third time I’ve been one of the brothers,” he said. “The first time I played Benjamin, the youngest. Ten years later I’m playing the oldest.
“If I’m in the show again I’ll probably have to be the father, Jacob,” he said with a laugh.
Joel Morrison plays the Pharaoh who summons Joseph because he is having dreams no one else can interpret. To the Pharaoh’s astonishment, Joseph does interpret his dreams and he makes Joseph one of the most powerful men in Egypt.
“Back in 2003, I played Joseph at The Theatre in the Park,” Morrison said. “This time I’m a Pharaoh. I portray him as an Elvis Presley-style figure.”
Morrison’s wife, Tina, and daughter, Abby, 7, also have parts in the show. “Having your family in the show with you is especially nice,” he said.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Deamcoat” runs tonight and Sunday and again Wednesday through Saturday at The Theatre in the Park in Shawnee Mission Park.
Curtain time for all shows is 8:30 p.m.