July 4, 2008

Ancient Colors With Modern Touches


News You can use What: "Joseph," musical Who: Heartland Festival When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 11; 2 p.m., Saturday, July 12; 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 17; 2 p.m., Saturday, July 19; 7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 20; 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 22; 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 24; 2 p.m., Sunday, July 27; 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 31; 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 3 Where: Center for the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Cost: $17 adults, $9 students younger than 18; box office 608-342-1298 or order tickets at http:// tickets.uwplatt.edu

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. - It's the anachronisms that make "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" mostly a comedy.

The musical is based on the Biblical story of Joseph, sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. But never mind the ancient time line: You never know when someone is going to break out in a country/Western song, a disco number or a tap dance.

Paul Helm is directing the Andrew Lloyd Webber show for the Heartland Festival at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. It opens Friday,

July 11.

"I'm having a ball," said Helm, who also has roles in the festival's "A Year with Frog and Toad" and "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."

"There's a lot going on in'Joseph.'It's a joy and it's high energy. There's so much color and it's all music and the ending is pretty darn cool," he said, barely pausing for breath.

"Actually, it's a little like'Frog and Toad'in that it's a lot of short vignettes."

When it comes to a well-known Broadway-style show like "Joseph," he said, there's no point in messing too much with tradition. People know the show and the music and that's what they want. Still, he's adding some playful variations, such as the scene in which the brothers sell Joseph to a passing caravan. Instead of coins changing hands, it's a credit card transaction.

And instead of one singing narrator, there are two: Kelsey Klug and Abby Schultz. Typically the narrator in "Joseph" is a woman, making it the strongest female part in the show full of brothers. It works well, having two narrators, he said. But Helm has made more work for himself by arranging two-part harmony for them.

The other women in the cast have multiple parts as Jacob's wives, Egyptians and Ishmaelites.

Joseph is played by 19-year-old Aaron Sitrick.

"It's such an energetic show but with a lot of meaning," Helm said. "Joseph is a dreamer. His brothers shunned him. They don't want to believe someone who's different. It's like Martin Luther King or Gandhi or Galileo. People don't want to listen. But in the end, the dreamer wins."

He said the show will be filled with special effects and a set, complete with Egyptian sphinx, designed by Matthew J. Evans, who worked with Helm last year on "Seussical the Musical," as well as several other Heartland productions.

"I hope we get applause just with this set," Helm said. "We're telling this story so the audience gets a kick out of it."

Originally published by SANDYE VOIGHT TH staff writer/ [email protected]

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