In theater, producing the tale of an exceptional character requires the work of a dedicated team. And Stars has assembled a multifaceted crew to bring to life its latest incarnation of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which opens Friday.
Marnie Forzetting, who split choreographing and directing duties with Brent Rochon, is no stranger to the biblical tale. This is the fourth “Joseph” for her and vocal director Char Gaines, who worked on Bakersfield Music Theatre shows in 1996, 1998 and 2004 at Harvey Auditorium.
“I just never thought I would do it again. I thought three times is enough. It was a great experience.”
The show’s being scheduled during the teacher’s summer break combined with a staging challenge drew the director in.
“We’ve never brought it to this theater. (But) we’ve been doing some really big shows at Stars,” she said, citing last season’s “Anything Goes” and “Mary Poppins.”
She and Rochon worked closely with set designer and builder Gabe Urena to set the stage, which needed to both evoke the opulence of ancient Egypt and accommodate a 48-member cast.
“We made adjustments as we went.”
The show stars Zachary Gonzalez as Joseph, whose jealous brothers sell him into slavery. In a special guest star role, Amy Adams plays the Narrator, who remains outside the story, leading the children’s chorus (and audience) through Joseph’s struggles.
“She starts off singing with the kids. ... She is all over the stage, telling the story.”
Forzetting relied on Gaines, who worked with Frank Sierra and Jennifer Resolme to assemble the children’s chorus. The 16 children, ranging from ages 6 to 13, were culled from student workshops.
The children spend much of the show off to the sides on stairs or platforms following the story with singing and choreography.
Forzetting said some dedicated “mom helpers” have aided with the youth rehearsals. And this family show is a family affair with children of four performers — Adams, Resolme, Rosie Ayala and Elizabeth McKay — in the chorus.
Along with the 16 children, 32 adults make up the rest of the cast, with Joseph’s brothers and wives also filling in other ensemble roles.
The show is a mix of seasoned performers and new faces, Forzetting said, including members of Bakersfield College’s chamber choir.
Having choreographed “Joseph” three times before, Forzetting said she knew it was a lot of work and in addition to Rochon, assigned three dance captains — Sierra, Kelci Lowry and Danielle Humphrey.
Much of the hard work is on display in the finale “Megamix,” a medley of the show’s songs that serves as the bows for main and secondary characters.
“I think it’s one of the most fun parts of the show. ... It doesn’t even seem like it’s nine minutes because it’s movement and dance.”
“Joseph” enlists an eight-member orchestra, including music director Brock Christian on keyboard and Gaines on piano.
The show also features Roy Scarazzo as slave owner Potiphar, Lowry as his wife, Tevin Joslen as Pharaoh and Ron Fox as Joseph’s father, Jacob.
Advance ticket sales have been robust, especially for the show’s initial Sundays (July 10 and 17). As a result additional Sunday (July 24) and Thursday (July 14) performances were added.
Summertime at Stars
“Joseph” is just the latest in Stars’ summertime family programming. Other events:
The Movies at Stars: Free screenings of family-friendly films from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 12 (“Newsies”) and Aug. 23 (“Toy Story”). Seating is first come, first served and popcorn, beverages and dinner will be available for purchase.
Princess Breakfast at Stars: The popular event has expanded to two Saturdays but tickets are going fast. Little princesses and princes are encouraged to dress up for the event that will include characters meet and greets and photo ops, a live princess concert, games, sing-alongs and a light breakfast. Events run 10 a.m. July 16 and 23. Tickets are $35 for guests 3 and up (children 2 and under are free but must be seated with adult).
Bakersfield Music Theatre Summer Workshops: “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” continues its performances with shows at 7 p.m. July 15 and 2 p.m. July 16 at BCSD Education Center, 1300 Baker St. Tickets are $10.
Workshops for “Honk: The Musical Jr.” and “Legally Blonde: The Musical Jr.” will take place this month and August, respectively — and enrollment is still open. Shows will take place Aug. 12 and 14 (“Honk”) and Sept. 16 and 17 (“Blonde”) at the BCSD center. For more information, call 325-6100.