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'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat' Lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

Now onstage at Bancroft's (Ontario) Village Playhouse Theatre

Credit: Courtesy of Village Playhouse Theatre. Centre: Christopher Sherwood as Joseph and members of the ensemble

Joe Szekeres

A sold-out, opening night, foot-stomping crowd pleaser of a ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ is now on stage at Bancroft, Ontario’s Village Playhouse.

What is it about this nearly 55-year-old musical that still draws thunderous applause?

More on this shortly.

Based on the character Joseph from the Book of Genesis, the Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice sung-through musical told by a Narrator (Jessica Wilson) takes many liberties with the Biblical story for the staging. The fact that Joseph (Christopher Sherwood), second youngest son to Jacob (Kent Sheridan), is a mindless dreamer at the beginning of the story ultimately pays off for him at the end.

Jacob (who will become Israel) favours Joseph and gives him a multicoloured coat to show his affection which sparks jealousy among the eleven siblings. Joseph’s dream, whereby he will rule over them all, also makes his brothers angry. They try to kill Joseph but change their minds. Instead, they sell him as a slave and tear his coat. The brothers tell their father that Joseph has died. Jacob is distraught over this news.

Despite Joseph’s enslavement by Potiphar (Jacob MacInnis) for a possible indiscretion with his wife, Pharaoh (Kent Sheridan) turns to the young man because he can interpret dreams. Impressed with what he hears, Pharaoh pardons Joseph, makes him his second in command, and puts him in charge of the upcoming famine preparations.

Meanwhile, Joseph’s brothers and their wives back home are now poor and live off scraps in a brothel and regret their actions. They travel to Egypt to beg for food from the ruler, not knowing it is their sibling. At first, willing to give them sustenance, Joseph tricks the brothers. He secretly plants a gold cup in the satchel of the youngest, Benjamin (Josiah Hill). The other brothers grovel and beg forgiveness for Benjamin to live. Joseph sees his brothers have changed and forgives them for what they did to him. He is reunited with his father, and all is well again.

It’s an intimate space at Bancroft’s Village Playhouse. Set designer Teddy Moynihan and Scenic Painter Mary Williams utilize the tightly compact stage to its advantage. It’s also a big cast (I counted 19 in the programme), but no one appears to be getting in each other’s way either in the blocking or the choreography. Credit to the entire production team for maintaining the show’s pacing in rehearsal and performance. Set pieces are moved on and off by some cast members. Pieces are also moved in without squeaky noises from caster wheels.

A nod of appreciation to Sound Designer Alaynah DeKleine. The selection of pre-show music focuses on the dream theme, which is clever. Additionally, I could hear every song lyric in Act One. Just a quick note: some sound feedback and technicalities in the second act prevented me from hearing much. It’s a minor issue that can be fixed immediately.

Jocelyn Perry’s coordination in the extravagant costume choices immediately catches the eye of their design. Much work is involved, especially in this department, to ensure credibility. Kalie Hunter Nero’s vibrant and lively choreography remains visually solid. It also showcases the varied range of colours of the clothing choices.

Let’s return to the question at the beginning of the article.

What is it about this nearly 55-year-old musical that still draws thunderous applause?

Director Phillip Nero knows the answer. His Programme Note states that ‘Joseph’ is fun and silly. The opening night production certainly underscores this fact with some terrific comic work in his cast, from Jacob Macinnis’ campy and non-binary Potiphar to Kent Sheridan’s swivel-hipped, grey fox Daddy, Elvis look of Pharaoh and a perfectly timed cartoony-looking camel that crosses the stage.

But Nero knows there’s more about the universal messages of ‘Joseph’ and incorporates them into his vision.

First and foremost, it’s a story about forgiveness that works both ways. We need to show forgiveness to others if we are to ask it from them.

Nero clearly understands his role as director by taking two additional steps to accomplish his vision.
First, he gears the message of forgiveness toward the child-like innocence within us all. Children can learn life lessons far quicker than adults who have become set in their ways. Considering this idea, Designer Moynihan uses large children’s toy blocks with the letters spelling Joseph’s name. This incorporation reminds us of how the story speaks to children (and the child within each of us) and why the chorus is extremely important in ‘Joseph.’

The second choice?

Nero has ASL Narrator Cassie-Hope Aubin sign the story. Adding Aubin opens the doors for deaf audience members to come and see the show and feel welcome, which further extends ‘Joseph’s’ universal message of forgiveness to others. Director Nero also makes a wise choice not to have Aubin stand at the side of the stage. Instead, Aubin participates in the show's action along with Jessica Wilson as the Narrator.

Vocally, the cast sounds terrific under Jake Schindler’s musical direction. Some terrific vocal highlights include ‘Those Canaan Days,’ ‘Potiphar’s Song’, Benjamin Calypso,’ and ‘There’s One More Angel in Heaven.’ During the second act, there are a few moments when the vocal intensity isn’t as strong as in the first act. Again, possibly nerves for opening night? Fatigue setting in from tech week? Now that the show is up and running, the cast (especially the youth) is responsible for getting enough rest after each show.

Jessica Wilson has a lovely singing voice as the Narrator and tells the story gracefully, sometimes with a knowing wink or a glance. As the title character, Christopher Sherwood’s Joseph is boyishly charming (and at times bears a resemblance to our current Prime Minister). While trying to seduce the young Joseph, Choreographer Hunter Nero amps up her steamy dance number as Potiphar’s wife. It earned a raucous round of applause at the end.

Joseph’s brothers and wives are a mixture of local actors from children, youth, and Equity artists, so some of the performance levels contrast, but all remain committed to the moment. However, I wasn’t aware until I opened the programme that there were two teams of the Children’s Chorus. I don’t recall an announcement stating which team would perform before the show began. Might it be possible to make that announcement before each show? It’s one of the reasons we attend the show – to see the kids perform. It also shows the children they are valued during the musical, just like the adult performers.

Final Comments: I hear tickets are selling quickly, and performances have been added to the demand. This ‘Joseph’ makes a beautiful introduction to musical theatre for children and youth. Adults will enjoy the piece's playful, jocular, and witty music.

Go see this ‘Joseph’—an entertaining afternoon or evening in the theatre.

Running time: approximately two hours with one intermission.

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ runs until September 2 at Bancroft’s Village Playhouse, 5 Hastings Street South. For tickets and other information, call the Box Office at (613) 478-6060 or visit

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR DREAMCOAT Music by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber with Lyrics by Tim Rice.

Director: Phillip Nero
Musical Director: Jake Schindler
Choreographer: Kalie Hunter Nero
Technical Director, Lighting/Sound Designer: Alaynah Dekleine
Set Designer: Teddy Moynihan
Production Designer: Tim Porter
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Perry
Scenic Painter: Mary Williams
Children’s Chorus Musical Director: Dianne Garbutt Winmill
Stage Manager: Tracy Lynne Cann

The Children’s Chorus: Alexis Campbell, Decklan Campbell, Ellis Feeney, Taryn Perry, Lily Belle Kussman, Sophia Lawrence, Aiden Dillabough, Becky Dillabough, Rémie Doucette, Marleigh Douglas, Reid Raymond, Evan Robinson.

Performers: Josh Alcantara, Cassie-Hope Aubin, Katie Baylis, Koda Carriere, Danelle Charette, Jarret Cody, Skylar Giasson, Josiah Hill, Adam Holmberg, Jennifer Kehoe, Jacob Macinnis, Ha’Keena Maneso, Kalie Hunter Nero, Nick Sheculski, Kent Sheridan, Christopher Sherwood, Stéphanie Visconti, Jessica Wilson, Emily Young.

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