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Boogie to a Bible story

River Ridge drama students produce the Old Testament story of Joseph and his 11 brothers, updated to the 1970s.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001


Anyone who has nodded off during a boring church sermon need not fear doing the same during the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical interpretation of the Old Testament story of Joseph and his 11 jealous brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The show plays at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge from April 27-29.

The biblical cantata, which is surprisingly faithful to the original story, is filled with lively rock, country, vaudeville song-and-dance, French ballad and calypso numbers that literally jump off the stage and boogie.

The story has papa Jacob giving a coat of many colors to his favorite of 12 sons, Joseph. Joseph's brothers, angered by the favoritism, sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father he has been killed by a mountain critter. Joseph is taken into Egypt, where he lands in jail over a misunderstanding. When he shows a penchant for interpreting dreams, he is taken to the Pharaoh (Darrell Huling), saves the country from starvation and eventually reunites with his brothers, but only after he has made them grovel before him a little bit.

"This is a great show, and we're really excited to be doing it," said Tim Erickson, the technical director and drama teacher at River Ridge.

The cast and crew of 85 River Ridge drama students, faculty members, parents and one alumnus will do the show decked out in 1970s-style garb in psychedelic purple, lime, hot pink and tangerine, long fringed jackets, beads, headbands, flowered capri pants and even a pair of white patent leather go-go boots.

"We "built' these costumes from stuff we pulled out of stock, Goodwill and altered from what we had," said Lori Erickson, the stage director who designed the costumes.

Student Elizabeth Brill and a team of parents sewed the costumes and coordinated the colors, she said.

"We have 120 different costumes," Ms. Erickson said.

The story is told in song by two narrators (Alison Caffrey and April Gabriel) and the cast members. An integral part is the chorus made up of 15 middle school students and five faculty members.

Auditions were held in January, and the show has been in rehearsal since then.

This is the 15th musical and the 30th show to be produced by River Ridge Drama. It has the largest cast in the 10-year history of dramatic presentations by the school. It has the largest set constructed for a River Ridge production and more lighting special effects than any other River Ridge show.

The company includes 45 high school students, 20 middle school students, 12 teachers and staff members, one alumnus and four parents. Of those, there are six families with multiple members involved.

At a glance

WHAT: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

WHERE: Center for the Arts at River Ridge, Town Center Road, New Port Richey

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 27 and 28; 2 p.m. April 28 and 29. An American Sign Language interpreter will sign the performance at 2 p.m. April 28.

TICKETS: $5, general seating. Call (727) 992-4210 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays. Those who are hearing impaired may call 376-5054.

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