Faith and fun take center stage in ‘Joseph’ production
Trials and tribulations, perhaps even betrayal, likely has touched each person at one time or another, but the story of Israel’s favorite son, Joseph, and his triumph in the face of adversity is one for the ages.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” will be performed in three shows at 7 p.m. Friday, July 15, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at Sentry Theatre @1800. The cast includes one adult and 85 teen/young adults and children.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children and can be purchased at the door or at www.playhousetheatergroup.com/buy-tickets.
“I grew up with this show, so this is my dream role,” said Carleen Baron, a Pacelli High School graduate, who as narrator is top billing along with Joseph in the show.
“Music is one of the most powerful things out there,” she said. “For people who are coming into it being religious, I hope it really touches them, and we can get God’s message to them and for those who aren’t religious, I still hope they are touched by it.”
One of the most enduring musicals of all time, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” is an irresistible family musical about the trials of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son. It is directed by Victoria Schultz and choreographed by Ryan Goszkowicz.
“I hope it brings people to where they’re kind of in awe and can’t really think of anything else,” said Phil Grygleski, a Pacelli graduate who first saw the production as an eighth-grader and is home this summer from college specifically to play Joseph.
“It’s really been teaching me a lot more of my weaknesses,” he said. “It’s not an easy part … so what I’ve turned to is more of a trust in the Lord. If you want me here, take control because this is definitely challenging, and I’m not sure it’s going to work out the way I want it to.”
It is a sentiment Baron shares, adding “I didn’t have as much confidence in myself. The role of narrator has been taxing. I’ve had to learn to be more confident … definitely it’s been trust in the Lord.”
Through singing and dancing – 90 minutes – the humorous story of Jacob’s favored son Joseph is told, how he was betrayed by his 11 jealous brothers before being sold into slavery and driven to Egypt. Through adversity and triumph, Joseph perseveres through faith to share with audiences a story of forgiveness.
While the storyline has a religious element, the message is universal, cast members said.
“I think the message of the play is if you really want to do something, you can achieve it,” said Jacob Pezewski, who, in his second year with Playhouse, depicts brother Benjamin.
The message carries not only through the production but also in all of the cast. Pezewski, for example, said he initially was afraid to audition since many of his school and neighborhood friends are not into theater and music.
“One of the main messages we have is just go for it,” said Tanner Reed, who plays brother Naphtali. “You make friends for a lifetime. Everyone makes everyone feel comfortable … After the audience finishes watching, I want them to be in a euphoric mood. We just have fun, even if we mess up we don’t let it stop us.”
The show is cast-driven, that is while the cast receives direction from Schultz and choreography from Goszkowicz, the cast has taken the reins, and the older members work with the younger members and form a relationship of support and guidance as well as skill.
“The relationship you make with the other people, you feel open to explore new things,” said Jayden Haase, who plays Issachar’s wife. “I think it’s really cool to put younger kids in and see how they remember what to sing. It’s so cool that we can teach them and make them more comfortable. I want the audience to be like, ‘Wow, these kids have talent,’ and talk about it and have more kids join.”
The show is all live on-stage with no breaks and no scene changes, which has proved challenging in the choreography and transition throughout the storyline.
“The entire show is essentially one long song … It was definitely challenging to do,” Goszkowicz said. “However, with the help of a few friends, it made my job as a choreographer easier because instead of wondering if my choreography worked with what the director had in mind for blocking, I was able to block the show how I thought it would look and work best.
“(The cast) keeps blowing me away with everything they are capable of,” he said. “Each day I am humbled by the amount of talent each cast member has.”
The first performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” was in March 1968 at an England School accompanied by the school orchestra. The performance was 15 minutes long. Initially there were no plans for other shows, but it went over so well, a second show took place two months later. The media attended, critic reviews were favorable, and the performance grew.
The first amateur production in America was in May 1970. Various performances followed and it became so successful that in January 1982 it moved to Broadway.
For Goszkowicz, this show will represent a culmination of his time with Playhouse. He will be moving to California to study at the Young American College of the Performing Arts. It is bittersweet, he said, but the memories and friends will last a lifetime.
“Being involved with theater my whole life allowed me to grow into the person I am today,” he said. “I am so thankful for community theater such as Playhouse for giving me the opportunity to grow not only as a performer, but as a human being. Without theater, I wouldn’t have made all of the friendships that I am so blessed to have today.
“I cannot express enough how much I’m going to miss my cast mates,” he said. “They have always pushed me to be my best. Without them I would never have gotten this far. These people mean the world to me, and I love each and every one of them.
“This show’s message explains what can happen if one follows their dreams, and with this being possibly my last show with Playhouse, I have become very attached to this musical,” Goszkowicz said. “I hope that anyone who sees the show can see how much I care about this production and the people involved.”
The Playhouse Theatre Group of Central Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that is committed to offering high quality performance and educational opportunities for young people within the community.
Cast members include:
Youth ensemble (Poor Poor Joseph): Ellie Andrews, Brooke Beyer, Mary Gabrielle Bunn, Mallory Greenwood, Isabella Nimm, Rachel Jorgenson, Maddie Moyer, Elizabeth Oakland, Maija Salienko, Megan Stremer, Ally Wierzba, Sydney Grajkowski, Ava Boettcher;
Potiphor’s Household: Maylie Allord, Brea Bierman, Sophia Brandt, Grace Loomis, Paige Moyer, Hailey Portzen, Sarah Taylor, Jewelia Zalac, Emily Hopper, Nate Smith, Elijah Grajkowski, Jacob Schultz;
Pharoah’s Household: Kylie Crow, Emma Deptula, Mattie Guinn, Katie Hoerter, Kate Jorgenson, Isabella Montgomery, Ella Solin, Abby Stupar, Greta Vollendorf, Marah Helm, Rachel Galecke, Aaron Taylor, Eli Schultz, Mikala Durall, Riley Andrews, John Paul Bunn, Sam Blanker, Mathias Rudnick;
Children’s Choir: Ella Boettcher, Rose Brown, Sydney Boris, Rio Chaplinski, Eliana Duessing, Luke Schultz, Keegan Guinn, Evan Grajkowski, Liam Nimm, Ruby Davison, Levi Hubbard, Lauren Mercer, Abby Sekerka, Gabe Smith, Odessa Turnquist, Madelyn Herek.
Named Cast: Narrator, Carleen Baron; Joseph, Philip Grygleski; Reuben, Seth Barnes; Reuben’s wife, Ally Horgan; Simeon, Robert Goszkowicz; Simeon’s wife, Laura Mitch; Levi, Ryan Goszkowicz; Levi’s wife, Kara Milkowski; Nephtali, Tanner Reed; Nephtali’s wife, Emma Kowalski; Issachar, Ben Formella; Issachar’s wife, Jayden Haase;
Asher, Charlie Kulick; Asher’s wife, Emily Czech; Dan, Daniel Mitch; Daniel’s wife, Sophie Disher; Zebulon, Nick Rosenthal; Zebulon’s wife, Emily Horgan; Gad, Peter Clark; Gad’s wife, Allison Kleman; Judah, Jackson Eckendorf; Judah’s wife, Delaney Lawlis; Benjamin, Jacob Pezewski; Benjamin’s sister, Shannon O’Donnell;
Potiphor, AJ Jones; Mrs. Potiphor, Katie Hoerter; Butler, Riley Andrews; Baker, Mikala Durall; Pharoah, Lucas Molski; Jacob, Doug Allord.