Joseph and his talented technicolor cast wows the audience during matinee performance at LBHS

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Johanna Ellis

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Nowhere in the Book of Genesis does one encounter a Pharaoh/Elvis Presley impersonator, Joseph’s brother Reuben wearing a beret and dancing like a Beatnik, or the brothers wearing leis and rocking to Calypso music.

Joseph and emsemble

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Ensemble cast

Sunday’s performance at Laguna Beach High School (LBHS), while not “biblical” in terms of religious significance, was nevertheless “biblical” on the entertainment scale. Originally created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, this production was masterfully brought to the stage by LBHS staff members Alexis Karol (Producer), Calena Marie DelPizzo-Howell (Hair and Makeup Design), and Peter Roche (Technical Director). Guest Director and Choreographer Paul Nygro, a professional theater veteran, is thrilled to be back at Artist’s Theatre, and Music Director Tim Nelson, a leading force in OC Theatre for 30 years, welcomes the opportunity to work with Alexis Karol. 

Joseph and prisoner

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Tanner Burton as Joseph and the narrators, (L-R) Claire Tigner, Rylee Bullington, and Zoe Waters 

Lexie LeFevre, a sophomore from Yorba Linda, who attended the performance said, “The play was great! The actors were spot-on when portraying the story, and amazing at bringing the right emotion to the audience!”

In a nutshell, the story unfolds – among his 12 sons, Joseph is most favored by his father who bestows on him a technicolor dream coat, his brothers are jealous, get rid of him (they think), but Joseph is taken to Egypt, becomes a slave, works his way up to running the household, but the Potiphar throws him in jail (mistakenly thinking he’s involved with his wife). 

Joseph and Elvis

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Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh

Soon after, his reputation for deciphering dreams brings him to be right-hand man for the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, Joseph’s family back home is struggling due to the famine, with his brothers regretting what they did to him, and they travel there to beg for supplies. In Egypt, the brothers request food, not realizing who he is. Joseph gives them sacks of food, but puts a golden cup in the one belonging to Benjamin, his youngest brother, whom he has never met. When the brothers attempt to depart, Joseph stops them, accusing them of theft. 

Joseph and calypso

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Noah Novick, (middle) leads brothers in "Benjamin Calypso"

Each brother empties his sack and when the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack, Joseph accuses him of stealing. The other brothers beg Joseph to take them prisoner instead and let Benjamin go free. Ultimately, Joseph sees that his brothers have changed and reveals who he really is. Joseph sends for his father, the pair is reunited, and he wears his coat of many colors again. Granted, that’s a lot of territory to cover.

Bringing this story to life is a company of versatile and talented performers, many of whom interchange parts seamlessly. The company includes more than 50 LBHS student cast and crew members and 12 students from El Morro Elementary, Top of the World Elementary, and Thurston Middle School in the children’s choir. 

Joseph and beatnik

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Luka Salib as Beatnik brother – Reuben

Presented entirely in song, the story’s three narrators guide the audience on the journey. Rylee Bullington, Claire Tigner, and Zoe Waters do an excellent job. All of the players wonderfully populate the Artist Theatre’s stage. Tanner Burton does a fine job of portraying Joseph as the vulnerable dreamer who has lost his way. His final song, “Any Dream Will Do,” is one of his best. 

There are a few numbers that can’t help but be standouts. Nick Reardon as the Pharaoh “wannabe” Elvis, does an admirable impersonation and fully inhabits his character with “Poor, Poor Pharaoh & Song of the King.” Isadora Duskin-Feinberg brings the Potiphar’s wife to life with her seductive dance number. 

Joseph and coat

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Joseph, cast and the amazing technicolor coat

As brother Reuben, Luka Salib gives it his all in the number “Those Canaan Days,” both singing and dancing like a true ‘60s Beatnik. Noah Novick was also memorable for his “Benjamin Calypso” performance. Drew Fink as the Potiphar was great as well.

The impressive cast worked together to bring this legendary story to the stage for a fun and engaging afternoon. Don’t miss the chance to see one of the remaining performances. (Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 2:30 p.m.)

For tickets, go to www.lbhs.booktix.com. Tickets are $22 for Premium, $17 for adults, and $12 for students. 

LBHS is located at 625 Park Ave.