The Blessed Sacrament Children’s Theatre has been presenting an annual production since 2001. They have done Oliver, Annie, Hello Dolly, Wizard of Oz, Seussical, Guys and Dolls, High School Musical, Wizard of Oz, Willy Wonka, and Oliver (Yes, two were done twice!) This year Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was chosen. Bob Tansley was the director until this year, when Chuck Stango (“in a moment of weakness”) agreed to take over the job. No child who wants to appear is turned away and they range in age from 3 to 14 years old. As in the past so many students from Blessed Sacrament, WAMS and elsewhere wanted to appear in the show that they have a Red Cast and a Blue Cast. Forty-five students are in each cast.
Mr. Stango and several of the actors appeared on WATR with Tom Chute to promote the show. Traveling to the radio station to talk about the upcoming show was one of the highlights of the Schoolhouse Rock Live productions I did at Maple Hill back in 2005. The director discussed the large number of students who wanted to take part this year and that the group tries to be self-supported as they can with ticket prices at $10. The students all talked about how much fun the ninety performers have had during rehearsals.
I attended the opening night of the Red Cast on Friday with my faithful grade partner. There was plenty of parking near the school on Robbins Street in Waterbury and the production was held in the air-conditioned “gymatorium.” The hefty full-color program indicated that the performance was sponsored by the Naugatuck Savings Bank Foundation. Since there were thunderstorms in the area, they held the curtain just a little in order to wait for the keyboard player, Todd Gorski, to arrive. He is worth the wait, believe me.
The students did such an amazing job with the challenging music, which includes so many genres and lots of acting. Joseph has very little spoken dialogue and almost every number features the full company, so everyone has lots a singing to do. Most of the kids wore microphones that helped the audience hear them over the excellent seven-member orchestra. At times it was difficult to understand the lyrics but the story shines through. The Red Cast contains some great singers/actors and the little ones in the Children’s Chorus were just adorable. The important role of Narrator was split and then triple casted, in order to feature as many young ladies as possible. The roles of Joseph brothers in this cast were in fact mostly girls, but were pretty convincing nonetheless.
The choreography was more than ever attempted at Blessed Sacrament and was very impressive. The dance captain had a featured role and deserved it. The scenery features a revolving section and was perfect for the large cast. And the costumes… wow! The program lists Debbie Hartley Fochielli as the costume guru and five sewers and it shows. Cowboy hats, rapper gear, Carmen Miranda headgear, and lots of rainbow colors can all be seen. The performers shine in the beautiful outfits, especially Pharoh in Elvis gear. Joseph’s coat was a work of art.
Marc Silva, the school’s music teacher and the director of the Naugatuck Community Choir, serves as musical director. He directed the students as professionally as he does the adults in the NCC (of which I am a member) and they rose to the challenge. I loved when he stepped into the spotlight to direct an especially long note to great comic effect. We also really enjoyed watching Mr. Stango directing the kids from the back of the room. He did an amazing job for a first-time director and his admiration of the kids was evident.
Joseph is a great family-friendly show that features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and is based on the story of “The Coat of Many Colors” story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis. This production is a must-see. It continues on Saturday June 18 at 1 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and Sunday June 19 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Go, go, go see it!