Louisville’s Center Stage opens Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” this week. The musical was the first Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice collaboration to be staged, but it didn’t really catch on until the two had a smash hit with “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the early Seventies.
The musical tells the Old Testament story of Jacob’s favored son Joseph and his twelve jealous brothers. Joseph’s a big dreamer — and his dreams tend to come true — so when he dreams that he will one day become king, his resentful brothers conspire to sell him into slavery.
“[The show] has some Jewish subject matter, which is great for the Jewish Community Center,” says director John Leffert. “It’s a great family show, just a lot of fun.”
The timeless story is told mainly through song. It might be set in Biblical times, but Leffert says the variety of contemporary music helps make the story relatable for contemporary audiences
“There’s a country-western number and dance, there’s a calypso number and a French number,” he says. “That’s what makes it fun for the audience, and it’s fun for the actors, too, because they can put on a little bit of caricatures about these different styles. I think it was brilliant by Andrew Lloyd Weber to write the musical in this way.”
The CenterStage production features a cast of more than 60 performers, including 28 in the children’s chorus. Despite his blockbuster-sized cast, Leffert says that he doesn’t rely on big production values to tell the story.
“We don’t have a million costume changes or a million set changes,” says Leffert. ” In its original creation, it was a children’s oratorio and it was done in a church. It’s really about the storytelling. I find all of the actors are a Greek chorus and they take on different roles to tell the story.”
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” opens Thursday and runs through March 3 at the Jewish Community Center.