Presented by Harbor Playhouse and the talented local cast and crew June 18-July 11
There are actually two stories behind the latest Harbor Playhouse production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. First, there’s the energetically choreographed musical about Joseph and his older, jealous brothers, and how the family was able to find reconciliation. Then, there is the equally meaningful story of a production that was shut down in 2020 due to Covid restrictions after only five showings, and how it’s coming back to the Coastal Bend a year later. Both stories are filled with faith, family, and living out a dream.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the true story of a man who lived thousands of years ago. The amazing (technicolor) musical adaptation was written by two creative 20-something-year-olds in 1968* and has been enjoyed by people of every age all over the world. Joseph features a different music genre for each major song, and the cast and crew of talented, local volunteers deliver wholesome fun that the entire family can enjoy together.
Barbara Bebout has appeared in multiple plays at Corpus Christi’s Aurora Arts Theater. She was in Act 3, Team B for the Harbor Playhouse production of Plaza Suite earlier this Spring, and is returning to play the role of Joseph’s mother as well as being in the dance troupe in several numbers. “This is a biblical story told with music, dance, and comedy,” she explained. “The cast has dreamed of sharing this with an audience all through the pandemic. To be able to finally finish this run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has actually felt like a dream.” How appropriate for a story about a dream coming true after seemingly impossible circumstances!
Marcus Lozano plays Joseph’s fifth oldest brother, Dan. “It felt like we had this play pulled from under us during the start of the pandemic. After having put in so much work last year, it left me with such a huge feeling of ‘unfinished business’ that I jokingly told people if I died, I would surely haunt Harbor Playhouse,” the owner of Feathered Friends said with a chuckle. “Now we are back! We’re able to run at full capacity, and we plan to put a tuchus in every single seat!”
To the audience, Bebout said, “I hope they notice all the different styles of dance and music we had to learn to perform each song, along with several quick costume changes. We have worked so hard to make things run smoothly.” With a twinkle in her eye, she quipped, “I hope they appreciate the physical effort it takes to get that done! We are all breathing hard and sweating buckets!!”
The Harbor Playhouse has been upholding a tradition of excellence in live entertainment for 94 years. Director David Corkill has been teaching theater for 11 years, and has directed over 40 shows. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is Corkill’s first community theater production. The newly married director is also acting in the show, reprising his roles from the 2020 production as Joseph’s ninth old brother Issachar, as well as the Butler.
Director Corkill likes the storyline and the music, but he said, “My favorite thing about this production is the passion in the cast.” Corkill also explained, “My job was not only to get the show back to where it was in March of 2020, but to also make the show bigger and better in every way. So for this production we have added music, dances, and blocking that we did not have last year.”
Just over a year ago, the production was cancelled because of the pandemic. On April 14, 2021 Corkill was able to inform the 2020 Joseph cast that they were going to be bringing the production back to the stage this spring, and on May 10 they had their first run-through. The show opens June 18, 2021. As Shakespeare said in Henry IV, Part 1, 2.4: “Play out the play!”
“It’s been over 20 years since I did my last show at Harbor,” recalled Thea Cain. “It’s great to be back and to be part of this amazing show with such a large, talented cast! I’m honored to play one of the narrators, which is such an intricate role in the musical. We keep the story going. The role was originally written for one person, but it’s nice having two of us because we get to create some beautiful harmonies together.” Cain is excited for families and friends to come experience the show, to laugh, and have a great night of entertainment. “I love the variety of styles of the songs from country, to French to an Elvis-style ballad,” said Cain. “It’s all such great fun for us, and I hope it is fun for the audience as well.”
There are a few new faces, since three of the previous year’s Joseph cast moved away, but Corkill said the first rehearsal was like a big family reunion. Everyone was excited to be together again, and many remembered most of the lyrics. They just needed to brush up on the choreography and learn the new songs and dances.
Alyce Oblad has been with Harbor for four years, and two of her sons were in a production last year. Oblad said she really sees the people from Harbor Playhouse as her family, adding, “I always say that Corpus didn’t feel like ‘home’ until I found Harbor.”
Oblad shared, “I am most excited for the audience to see how hard we’ve worked, and how excited we all are to be back on stage. For a lot of us this is a passion we’ve not been able to do for 15 months, as our run was cut short last year due to the pandemic. It’s going to be really special for the audience and cast & crew. It already feels like a healing, honestly.”
“This year has been unique in a lot of ways,” Oblad continued. “As well as coming back to my original role as one of the narrators, I was asked to step into the production team to serve as the music director.”
“Probably the most rewarding part about my new role has been working with the ‘brothers.’ Many of them stepped into a new role, such as the director, or taken on new solos.” She continued. “It’s been so much fun to take something we already knew from 15 months ago, then add to it and make it even better. Most shows don’t get a chance to do that.”
Many of the children in the play are from the Harbor Playhouse’s Young People’s Theater Camp (which is still accepting applications, with the last session beginning July 19). Throughout the musical, the young actors and actresses are onstage and also flanking the audience on either side. This helps the audience feel that they are participating in the “classroom discussion” of Joseph’s story.
Preston, the youth who plays Joseph’s youngest brother, said, “Being able to come back after Covid-19 and finish this role of Benjamin has been awesome. I appreciate every part of this opportunity so much more now.” He also reflected, “Community theatre has been a big part of my life for the past few years. My favorite part is that you make friends and those friends become your lifelong family, and it’s just the best feeling ever.”
To those thinking about auditioning for a show, or coming to the Young People’s Theater Camp, Preston encourages, “Just do it! It’s a fun and unforgettable experience, and you won’t regret it. Harbor Playhouse is my second home, and I love it here!”
Actor Matthew Robles said, “The singing, dance, and emotion — It’s like a small world.” Robles has been in several Harbor Playhouse productions, including last month’s Plaza Suite. For Joseph, Robles plays the role of Gad, the seventh oldest of Joseph’s eleven brothers. Robles was mentored by past director Joel Early in 2012. Playing Gad is especially meaningful to Robles, who shared, “Now I’m playing the role that my mentor played in a past production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, so it’s like he’s with me again.”
LT Luke Walker, USN plays the role of Joseph. He has been acting since seventh grade, and had some experience in opera in the past. After he was stationed in Corpus Christi, LT Walker heard about the casting call for Joseph and tried out. The pilot cleared the possibity of a new mission with his superiors, hoping he would land some sort of role, but said he was both surprised and delighted when he was offered the lead. “I am honored to play the heart of the piece as it is written.”
Walker said his favorite part of Joseph is the cast. “They are so fun to watch,” he said. “And they motivate me every day.” He likes the fun, comedic parts of the musical, but has an appreciation for the deeper parts as well, like Joseph’s song, “Close Every Door,” which was written to honor those who endured the Holocaust. The scene features a meaningful addition, created by the genius of director Corkill.
Johnna Binsted was the assistant stage manager last year, and was promoted to stage manager after her predecessor’s relocation. “I am very thankful Harbor allowed our show to continue,” said Binsted. “We all worked so hard, and it was so very sad and discouraging to only perform two weekends out of six last year,” she said.
“We are all family at Harbor,” said Binsted, “and it was heartbreaking to not see your family for so long.” She and the whole team have put a lot of work into preparing this amazing production, and she said they are hoping for a full house at each showing.
Binsted’s young daughter Mandolyn only eight when she was cast for the part she plays in the Joseph musical, and is the youngest in the cast. Like others, Mandolyn started this journey through a full summer of Young People’s Theater Camp at Harbor. The 2020 production of Joseph was her first opportunity to be on stage, aside from the Camp experience.
She’s been in several productions at Harbor Playhouse, including the 2020 production of A Christmas Carol, in which she played Tiny Tim, and Broadway on the Bayfront (Feb 2021). Mandolyn said her favorite part of Joseph is being able to continue with the show as if it never ended! She stated, “I was very sad when the show had to end early last year, but I was extremely happy the day I got the news that we got to finish the journey we started!”
Joseph’s story reminds us that dreams don’t usually come true overnight, and that even the most terrible events can be the very things that lead us to the greatest blessings. Laugh, cheer, and make wonderful memories while you support Harbor Playhouse. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be performed every weekend from June 18 through July 11. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30, while the Sunday matinee starts at 2:30. Reserve your tickets at https://ci.ovationtix.com/35878/production/1048980
*The lyrics for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat are the brilliant work of Tim Rice, who later created lyrics for many now-famous productions, including his collaborations with Disney in Aladdin and The Lion King, and the theatrical version of Beauty and the Beast. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who later composed music for well-loved productions, including Cats, and Phantom of the Opera.