“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” returns to the Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Ave., May 12 through June 3. And while it has been 20 years since the RTG first performed the musical, some of the same names from the 1997 production can be found among this year’s cast and crew.
“Joseph” — one of the first musicals written by the famous Broadway team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice — is such a beloved show that people want the chance to experience it again, according to Doug Instenes, RTG managing and artistic director.
“It was such a huge hit for us the first time around and everyone has such fond memories of the show,” Instenes said.
And the cast and crew aren’t the only ones excited about this production. Ticket sales have been brisk enough that two performances sold out early and two extra days were recently added, carrying the original three-week run into the first week of June, according to Joycelyn Fish, director of marketing and development for the RTG.
In this together
Based on the classic Bible story about the coat of many colors, “Joseph” is an uplifting tale of triumph and forgiveness, told through a blend of pop, country and rock songs such as “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.”
Joseph (played by Noah Chartrand), who is Jacob’s favorite son, is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. But, his gift for interpreting dreams helps him rise to a powerful position in Egypt. And when his brothers come to him later for help, they must prove they’ve changed.
It is a story that Kara and Brian Schalk are glad to be able to tell again, together. The couple, who recently marked their second wedding anniversary, were both involved in the 1997 production — Kara (then Kara Ernst) on the wardrobe and makeup crews, and Brian in the role of Joseph’s brother Isaachar.
This time around Kara is the show’s narrator and Brian is cast as a different, older brother, Ruben. And one of the things that they said drew them back to “Joseph” is the ensemble feeling of the show, which makes everyone in the 42-member cast of actors and vocalists feel really involved.
“Joseph” is also “just great fun and great entertainment,” Kara said. The different styles of music throughout the score offer something for everybody, she said.
Brian said he was surprised to discover how many of the songs soon came back to him after so many years. And Kara said she is enjoying her new role as narrator.
“As a kid in the ‘80s, I grew up knowing this show,” Kara said. “This has always been one of my bucket-list roles.”
New faces, too
In addition to the Schalks, other returning cast and crew include Samantha Sustachek, who was Samantha Pucely in the 1997 show’s youth choir, and now plays the role of a wife; and Kathy Berg, who played one of the wives 20 years ago and today is serving as an assistant stage manager for the show. Several other crew members have also returned for this production, either in their same positions or new ones, and audiences will see plenty of new faces on stage, as well as familiar ones.
Shows like the RTG’s “Joseph” also offer Instenes the opportunity to do something he said he really appreciates — watching young guild members grow up and mature, both as professionals and as people. Noah Chartrand, for example, has always had a great voice and been a very talented kid, Instenes said. And while he has performed in other RTG productions (including “Les Misérables,” “Spamalot” and “Fiddler on the Roof”) his role as Joseph is a powerful one for Chartrand, now 18.
“I’m thrilled with the way it is working out,” said Instenes, who is directing the show.
Showtimes and tickets
Performances of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Some Saturday matinees are also scheduled, as well as evening shows on one Thursday and one Sunday. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $15 for students. Discounted tickets are available for the May 21 and 25 evening shows.
Tickets and other information are available online at www.racinetheatre.org; by calling 262-633-4218; and at the RTG box office, 2519 Northwestern Ave., weekdays from noon to 6 p.m. and 90 minutes prior to each performance.
Founded in 1938, the Racine Theatre Guild is a nonprofit, volunteer-based community theater, led by a small professional staff, that provides a variety of live entertainment and educational opportunities for all ages.