Cary, NC – Over the next two weekends, the Cary Players will be performing the classic musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Cary Arts Center, mixing all of the musicals various styles with both its comedy and its heart.
Unique Song Assortment
The Cary Players are performing “Joseph” at the Cary Arts Center from Friday to Sunday, September 28 to 30, and then again from Friday to Sunday, October 5 to 7, 2018. Director Nancy Rich said one of the elements that keeps this 50-year old musical popular is its diversity in musical styles.
“Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice brought the story alive with a variety of musical styles. There’s cowboy music, Parisian, calypso,” Rich said. “They brought it into the contemporary and it’s not too reverent so it finds humor and stays entertaining.”
The musical tells the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, the great-grandson of Abraham whose ability to interpret dreams allows him to predict future events, all while being sold into slavery in Egypt.
“There’s no spoken dialogue. The lyrics are all sung so it’s practically an opera,” Rich said.
And for the music, Musical Director Darylene Hecht gathered versions and harmonies from many different “Joseph” productions, thus creating a show with a unique assortment of song variants.
Comedy and Drama
One of the elements Rich was attracted to with “Joseph” is its comedic elements – for example, the Pharaoh Joseph encounters is played like Elvis Presley – but she said like the music, there is diversity in the tone as well.
“It’s a comedy but Joseph has very touching moments too. It’s a big ask from the cast, to manage both,” Rich said.
Straddling that line is actor Erik Agle, who plays Joseph in the Cary Players’ production. Agle said he sees Joseph as the grounding character, along with the narrator, and said part of his job as an actor is not to veer too heavily into the comedy and upset the show’s balance.
“It’s almost two shows: there’s the silliness with Joseph’s brothers and the Pharaoh and there’s this sweet story with Joseph,” Agle said.
Agle said he’s had a lifelong love for “Joseph” and his family would listen to the music on road trips. But in addition the music, Agle said he is also drawn to the role because of the character and his personal journey.
“He’s privileged in the beginning and as he gains power, it may or may not get to his head. But he has these humbling experiences and through those experiences, he stays working and keeps his eye on God,” Agle said. “Playing this role, I’ve noticed a new moment I’m drawn to, when Joseph’s brothers visit him at the end and ask for mercy. They tried to kill him, they sold him into slavery, but he sees them in a new light and forgives them. It’s a huge character turn.”
As someone who grew up listening to the musical, Agle said the song he’s most drawn to is “Close Every Door.”
“There’s so much going through [Joseph’s] head at this point,” Agle said. “I love the courage he shows in what should be a hopeless circumstance. Despite it, his faith stays strong.”
Rich said the song that best communicates the musical’s theme, to her, is “Any Dream Will Do,” also considered “Joseph’s” theme song.
“It tells young people to set themselves a goal and not to wander aimlessly,” Rich said. “Have a dream to go after.”
Friday to Sunday, September 28, 29 and 30, 2018 || Friday to Sunday, October 5, 6 and 7, 2018
7:30 PM on Friday and Saturday, 3 PM on Sunday
Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the Cary Players.