When a director gets on the phone to plug a show, they usually love to discuss the gifted playwright or their dynamite cast. Not Shelley Tookey.
The Festival Players’ director dives straight into the costumes for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat now playing at Festival Place in Sherwood Park until Jan. 3.
“When we were looking to see what costumes we could get, for an extra few dollars we got the costumes the London cast wore — the one Donny Osmond wore that later became part of the touring cast. We really lucked out,” gushes Tookey, adding the company only had to do some alterations.
“Joseph’s coat is beautiful. It’s all hand-knit. And Mrs. Potiphar’s (scheming wife of a nobleman) is a gorgeous long dress, black with a huge train and cut in an Egyptian princess style.”
From the audience’s point of view, Tookey believes one of the big highlights will be full size lush head masks of cows in the scene where Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams of Egypt’s seven fertile and seven lean years.
As one of Edmonton’s most prestigious dance choreographers, Tookey (Crazy for You) is unafraid of a challenge. And this year’s ambitious production of Joseph is one of the few major British musical theatre shows with hardly any spoken dialogue.
“The choreography is brutal. Shelley likes to make pictures and it’s like we’re a moving canvas,” says St. Albert resident Terry Hall, who plays the role of Reuben, Joseph’s oldest brother. Hall’s daughter, Danielle, a Grade 11 Ă©cole Secondaire St. Marguerite d’Youville student has the role of a wife.
With a cast of 40, including 14 school children from six to 12 years of age, Tookey reinvents Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s light-hearted pop extravaganza.
This Biblical saga follows the adventures of Joseph, the favoured son of Jacob who is both cursed and blessed with the gift of prophetic dreams. When Joseph tells his brothers he will one day rule over them, their jealousy pushes them to sell him to passing Ishmaelites.
Potiphar, a wealthy Egyptian, buys the slave Joseph and he rises through the ranks. But in trying to thwart Mrs. Potiphar’s advances, he is thrown in jail. When Pharaoh commands Joseph to interpret his puzzling dreams, Joseph becomes second in command and prepares for an upcoming famine.
While the tale sounds sombre, Webber and Rice have blended every contemporary musical genre from a rockin’ Elvis-styled Pharaoh to a psychedelic go-go sequence complete with high boots, varnished wigs, see-through dresses and bell-bottom pants.
Heck, the brothers even host a hoedown in One More Angel in Heaven after they show Jacob Joseph’s tattered and bloodied coat, saying he was killed.
Underlying this multi-tinted epic is one main message, says Hall. “Family is important. We sometimes don’t get along, but we can usually make it work. We choose our wives and our friends, but family is all we have.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Running until Jan. 3
100 Festival Way, Sherwood Park
Tickets: $27 adults, $19.25 children. Call 780-451-8000 or online at www.ticketmaster.ca