Jacob Johnson sums up his character in one sentence: “Jacob was a dreamer.”
But God can work through dreamers, who have a way of seeing possibilities in everything. And that’s what he does in Christian Youth Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Johnson plays the title character in this show, which opens Wednesday at 7 p.m. in LSU’s Claude L. Shaver Theatre. The cast of 42 between the ages 12 and 18 will be performing the musical in its entirety.
And that’s no easy task, because “Joseph,” like so many of Webber’s works, has no speaking parts. Everything is told through song.
“Joseph is the story of a dreamer, a boy who was cast into captivity,” Johnson says. “And he rose to become the ruler through his faithfulness.”
There are obstacles along the way, and Webber’s production stays true to the biblical story, which switches back and forth from modern to ancient times.
Still, all the music is modern, exploring different genres from French ballads and Calypso, to western, 1920s jazz and the pharoah’s Elvis-inspired “Song of the King.”
Christian Youth Theatre’s show is directed and choreographed by Jonna Cox and backed by a recorded soundtrack.
“Joseph” was the first show where Webber teamed up with lyricist Tim Rice. The story is based on Joseph’s “coat of many colors” from the Book of Genesis.
Caleb Flores plays Joseph’s father, Jacob. “He’s father of the 12 sons, and I make the other sons angry at Joseph by favoring him and giving him the coat, which is the catalyst for the entire play,” Flores says.
The brothers’ jealousy prompts them to sell Joseph into slavery, where he rises through the ranks to run the household. He’s eventually called to the palace to interpret the pharoah’s dreams, and the ruler is so impressed that he puts Joseph in charge of carrying out preparations for an impending famine.
Back home, Joseph’s brothers and father are starving. The brothers make their way to Egypt to beg for food and eventually receive mercy and forgiveness from Joseph.
“There’s so much music in this play, and I love the story,” says Tonja Rainey, artistic director. “We had enough boys to play all the parts this year, and we decided to seize the moment.”
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