"Joseph" at TDHS

Supported by a live band, The Dalles High School’s drama department presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” during a dress rehearsal Wednesday night. Performances began Thursday, Feb. 20, and continue next weekend.

The Dalles High School presents “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a musical comedy with music composed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics written by Tim Rice. Performances are Thursday and Friday, Feb. 20-21, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m. The show continues next week with performances Thursday and Friday evening, Feb. 27-28, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday afternoon, Feb. 29, at 2 p.m.

All performances are at The Dalles High School Auditorium (220 E. 10th St.) Tickets are $10 for adults and students, $8 for senior citizens and children 12 and under.

The performance is directed by Lowry Browning, head of the high school drama department, with musical direction by Corin Parker, music specialist at Chenowith Elementary School.

The musical features a range of musical styles, classic to modern. A children’s choir made up of third through fifth graders from Chenowith Elementary, will also be on stage for the performance.

The music is challenging, said Parker, but that isn’t a problem. “They just learn it and go for it; I don’t give them another option,” she said. “If you don’t tell them it’s hard, they don’t know it’s hard.”

The play features almost no spoken dialogue.  

Browning said production has been underway since Dec. 2, with well over 300 hours put in by the directors planning and organizing the show, as well as working with the students.

Costumes are by Kathy Vawter, who said she spent about 600 hours creating them.

The colorful, full-scale production is an opportunity for theater students to learn new skills, work on their stage presence in an ensemble, and for younger actors to work with and learn from older students, Browning said.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” or “Joseph,” is based on the “coat of many colours” story of Joseph from the Bible’s book of Genesis. This was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly; their first collaboration, “The Likes of Us,” written in 1965, was not performed until 2005, according to Wikipedia.

The show has only a few lines of spoken dialogue; it is almost entirely sung-through. Its family-friendly story, familiar themes and catchy music have resulted in numerous stagings.

“Joseph” was first presented as a 15-minute “pop cantata” at Colet Court School in London in 1968, and it was published by Novello and recorded in an expanded form by Decca Records in 1969. After the success of the next Lloyd Webber and Rice piece, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Joseph” received amateur stage productions in the US beginning in 1970, and the first American release of the album was in 1971.

The musical was mounted on Broadway in 1982. Several major revivals, national tours, and a 1999 direct-to-video film starring Donny Osmond followed.

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