BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Although rehearsals have been disrupted with back to back school closures on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the untimely snow storm this week, Gov. Livingston Hilltop Players' production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is set to open Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Ken Stiefel Theatre in Davis Hall at Gov. Livingston High School.
When Director Joseph Miceli chose the play for the spring musical, he thought of the student population and tried to find a show that best fits the group. So, it's fitting that "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was chosen for this strong group of boys and talented ensemble.
"The past few years we've had a very strong group of boys involved and this year many of them are graduating," said Miceli. In addition, "We also knew we could expand this show in creative ways to get more students involved and even some younger elementary school age students involved that we've been able to do a few times over the years."
This year's production features 50 cast members, 70 crew and 15 in the pit orchestra.
The show itself is a hilarious and vibrant take on the Biblical saga of Joseph, his coat of many colors, and the eleven brothers who come to regret their jealousy. The powerful nature of the show has captivated audiences with spectacular song and dance.
"Though the show is based on a Bible story, it's not a religious show," said Miceli. "It's a great chance for families to come see a show together that everyone will enjoy. It's got humor, great vocals, a beautiful set and lighting, and high energy dance throughout. And, of course, we cap it all off with the 'Joseph Megamix,' a 9 minute recap of the entire show for bows."
The structure of the play relies on the Narrator, junior Bridget Lynn, guiding the audience from scene to scene. The audience is comprised of everyone coming to the show including some of our ensemble members and the kids chorus who get so into the story they jump up and participate.
"As this show is sung-through with very few solos (most of the songs have a chorus of voices behind a lead), the cast needs to be 'on' throughout almost the entire show," said Miceli. "Even when they are offstage, they will often be singing through backstage microphones. This also means that most of the show is dance heavy."
Dance rehearsals dominated the rehearsal process led by Columbia Middle School teacher Nancina Bucci, with extra choreography provided by student Gryffin Mendonssa. The music for this spring production is under the direction of Joe Elefante.
Senior Adam Cantor, who plays Joseph, continues to be "old reliable." Cantor made his Hilltop Players debut six years ago in the 2011 production of "Beauty and the Beast," when he was cast as Chip the Teacup. "It was only my second time directing a musical when we cast Adam as Chip. Six years later we've seen him take on great roles such as Orin, the dentist, in 'Little Shop of Horrors,' the lead, Pseudolus, in 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,' and the groom, Robert Martin, in 'Drowsy Chaperone,'" said Miceli.
"We know he can handle anything we throw at him," he said. "His excellent dance background is a great asset we don't often see in a male HS student. He, as always, does an incredible job throughout."
Junior Renee Barbosa, who played Mrs. Tottendale, a sweet, often confused, older lady, last year in Drowsy, is cast as Mrs. Potiphar, the seductive temptress, whose dance solo and then duet with Joseph is about as far from Mrs. Tottendale and Renee, herself, as possible, said Miceli.
Junior Patrick Wenz, as Joseph's father, Jacob, is a standout performance for a character who is not in much of the show. His dramatic soliloquy in "Those Canaan Days" leaves me in stitches every time, said Miceli.
Pharaoh is played by freshman Maycee Campano. "Yes, it's a female Pharaoh. From the first audition she blew us away," said Miceli. "We knew immediately she was right for the part and has consistently blown us all away in her 'Song of the King."
The music, with songs like “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do,” covers a wide range of styles, from country to rock-n-roll and back again. No matter what type of music audience members like, they can find something to enjoy in the show – it has everything. The high energy Hoedown, where the brothers and wives celebrate getting rid of Joseph, the big closer to the first Act, "Go Go Go Joseph", involves the entire company on stage at once, and "Those Canaan Days" that hilariously plays on a depressing French Ballad with killer lead vocals by senior Garrett Horwath, are personal favorites of Miceli.
With songs of all different music styles, any part of this show can get stuck in your head. "Top to bottom it's been a blast to direct and I can't wait for everyone to come see it," said Miceli.