When Limelight Performing Arts produced “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 2016, the show earned a slew of honors including the National Youth Arts award for “Outstanding Production.” Six years later, the theater is bringing the show back to the Mesa Arts Center.
The musical will be on stage Aug. 4-14 and will feature an epic cast of nearly 50 performers ages 6-21 – including 12 kids and teens from Mesa.
Stepping into the role of Joseph is 18-year-old Tre Moore, winner of this year’s ASU Gammage High School Musical Theatre Awards and nominee for the Jimmy Awards, a national competition held annually in New York City. This is his first role since returning from the Big Apple in June.
He and 16-year-old Bennett Smith of Ahwatukee share the role of Joseph, with Moore heading up the Blue cast and Smith leading the Red.
Tre, who will soon begin his freshman year as an Arizona State University Barrett Honors student, can’t wait to play the role.
“Following my experience in “Newsies,” I knew that my time with Limelight Performing Arts was far from over,” said Tre. “I wanted to do one last show before I went off to college, so when ‘Joseph’ presented itself, I knew that I had to do it!”
Set in biblical-era Canaan and Egypt, “Joseph” brings the age-old story of Jacob and his sons to vibrant new life. When Jacob gives Joseph a magnificent coat of many colors, his 11 brothers become so consumed with jealousy they sell him into slavery in Egypt. But because of Joseph’s prophetic gift for interpreting dreams, he ascends from lowly house slave to Pharaoh’s key advisor – and soon redeems the brothers who betrayed him.
Despite its weighty themes, the production is upbeat, light-hearted and full of comic relief. With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, it features colorful characters and costumes, modern choreography and a range of music and dance styles – from calypso and bubble-gum pop to a country-western hoedown and a Pharaoh who sings Elvis.
“It’s colorful, inspiring and so funny,” said Limelight’s artistic director, Emma England, who, along with Marie South, is directing the show.
Savannah Springer, 12, was part of the children’s choir when Limelight staged “Joseph” in 2016. This time around, she’s one of the narrators – and now she gets all the jokes.
“Josh Boenzi and Vincent Farley are so funny in their role as the Pharaoh,” said Savannah. “They bring so much humor into the show with their hilarious Elvis impersonations and big choices on stage.”
Allie Weid, 14, who plays multiple roles, said, “I think audiences will love the hoedown because the energy is so high and the audience can clap along and share our energy.”
Added 16-year-old Ashton Grantham, “The hardest parts of this show are the dancing and quick changes, as I’ll be on stage for every song, but I know the audience will also love how fast paced and entertaining it is.”
“The ensemble is central to this production,” said South. “Most productions rely on a couple of leads to carry the show, but ‘Joseph’ isn’t like that. Every person on stage is important to the story, and that means every one of our performers needs to be a true triple threat.”
Tre observed, “In my experiences with theatre, the lines and dialogue are instrumental in formulating a character, but ‘Joseph’ is all music. This means that I have to fill some of those gaps on my own, whereas in other shows, the spoken dialogue would help me put those pieces together.”
For 16-year-old Alex Hinkle, it’s an opportunity to hone his craft and be part of a major production while also spending time with his friends.
“The thing I’m enjoying most about the rehearsal process for this show in particular is just getting to hang out and mess around with the other brothers,” he said. “Given that we’re all in the same songs, I feel like the brothers as a group have really gotten to know each other quite well and there’s never a dull moment if we’re all in the same room together.”
Daymon Reidhead, 17, feels the same way: “This cast has a great energy and wants to make this show the best it can be.”
Added Allie: “I enjoy being able to do what I love with the people I love.”
As opening night approaches, the directing team and cast and working to fine-tune every aspect of the production, from the harmonies and choreography to the set and lighting.
“We threaded color through every aspect of this show,” said South. “For example, many of our set pieces look beige on the surface, but they’re lit from within and bring out that technicolor quality when we turn the lights on.”
The Children’s Choir pops in and out of the world and story of “Joseph,” singing along and adding new layers to every scene and song.
“‘Joseph’ mashes my two favorite things into one: my love to perform and my love of Bible Stories,” said Edward Oster, 11. “The Children’s Choir tells the story through a little kid’s eyes and gives the audience a different view of the story.”
And 8-year-old Lucy Peifer said, “I love singing the songs, especially the song with all the colors because I learned so many new colors I have never heard of.”
“I think the audiences are going to love all the amazing choreography in the show,” said Alex. “Marie and Emma have come up with some really amazing dances and, despite being a tiny bit difficult to learn, I think they all look really incredible.”
“This show is what got me into theater,” said Springer. “The audience is going to love this colorful adaptation of the bible story with fun music, costumes, amazing dancing and vocals.”
For 11-year-old Suzie Peifer, Joseph’s coat wins the day.
“They will love to see the coat and all the colors. And the audience will love seeing all the kids because all the kids make everyone feel happy.”
Mesa cast members include Owen Aspinall , 14; Sophie Aspinall, 12; Joshua Boenzi, 18; Ashton Grantham, 16; Owen Grover Reuben, 18; Alex Hinkle, 16; Tre Moore, 18; Edward Oster, 11; Lucy Peifer, 8; Suzie Peifer, 11; Brielle Poll, 9; Daymon Reidhead, 17; Savannah Springer, 12; and Allie Weid;
“At the heart of this show is a powerful message of love and unity that will resonate with children and adults,” said England. “The cast’s hard work and incredible passion will be evident in the top-notch quality of this performance.”
If You Go...
What: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Produced by Limelight Performing Arts
Where: Mesa Arts Center
When: Aug. 4-14