Boyceville Drama takes audience to Biblical Egypt with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

By Cara L. Dempski

BOYCEVILLE — A musical production that started as a “rock cantata” in 1968 London and debuted as a stage show in 1970 has made its way to Boyceville High School.

The musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be performed March 17 and 18 at 7 p.m., and will hold a matinee performance on March 19 at 2 p.m. Boyceville vocal musical instructor Ben Simmerman said the cast is looking forward to performances.

“We have a cast of 30,” Simmerman said during a dress rehearsal. “They have worked hard, and it’s starting to really come together.”

“Joseph” is a rock opera first conceived by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice in the late 1960s. The show was first performed as a 15-minute rock piece in 1968, and was published as a concept album a year later. The musical was introduced to theaters in 1970 after Rice and Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” was deemed a success.

The story comes from the Biblical book of Genesis and the story of Jacob and his 12 sons, the youngest of whom is named Joseph. The musical starts out with a narrator, or two in the Boyceville production, telling Jacob’s story and how his favoritism toward Joseph causes Jacob to make a coat of many colors for his youngest son. As in the Bible, the coat causes resentment in Joseph’s 11 older brothers.

But that is not the brothers’ only reason to resent Joseph. He also frequently has prophetic dreams which indicate he will one day rule over them all. When the brothers want to kill Joseph and are not successful, they decide instead to sell him into slavery in Egypt. 

Despite his beginnings as a slave, he eventually rises to become the second most powerful man in the land after foretelling seven years of plentiful harvests followed by seven years of famine to Pharaoh.

While the initial productions of the show involved more “traditional” costuming for all the characters, the production put on by Boyceville will be done “Vegas Style,” with sparkly costumes, a rock ‘n roll vibe, and the Pharaoh portrayed as Elvis Presley.

The Narrators are played by Hayley Bird and Caitlyn Pelikan, and Maxwell Engel is in the title role of Joseph. Samuel Retz is almost unrecognizable in his costume as Pharaoh. Simmerman said he opted to have two Narrators instead of one to give each singer a break.

“I wanted to give them each a chance to take a few minutes away from the stage to maybe rest and get a drink of water,” Simmerman explained. “They both have solos, one in the first act and one in the second.”

The two-hour show will be staged in the Boyceville High School/Middle School Gymatorium. Tickets are $5 and seating for each show will begin approximately 30 minutes prior to the show’s scheduled start.

“I think it will be a lot of fun,” Simmerman finished.