“Could you use a slave, you hairy bunch of Ishmaelites?”
“Young, strong, well-behaved! Going cheap! And he reads and writes!”
With those enthusiastic yet cruel lyrics, some Old Testament “also-rans” sell their brother to a caravan bound for Egypt. Then they rip his beautiful coat, dip it into animal blood and convince their father his favorite son is dead.
Welcome to the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” set to be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at Temple B’nai B’rith in Kingston to benefit the Midrasha Religious School.
“I’ve always wanted to do this show,” said director Dana Feigenblatt, who spends much of her time performing and directing at Music Box Dinner Playhouse in Swoyersville and other community theaters.
Her mother, Gerri Kaplan, is the principal of the Midrasha Religious School, which young people can attend from preschool until it’s time for their bar or bat mitzvah at age 13.
“I wanted to help her with a fundraiser,” Feigenblatt said. “And it’s been 50 years since Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote ‘Joseph.’ That’s also kind of cool.”
Earlier this week, some cast members worked on their dance steps while others fashioned long streamers from multi-colored pieces of material. The streamers will extend above the stage, technical director Michael Marone said, “to look like Joseph’s coat is encompassing the whole space.”
Ah, Joseph’s coat. In the musical retelling of a biblical story, when patriarch Jacob gives his favorite son a coat that makes “the rest feel second best,” it’s the last straw for the other brothers.
“Kids who come to see this are really going to get that,” said cast member Jess Ross, of Wilkes-Barre, referring to the sibling rivalry and jealousy.
It’s tempting to think of Joseph’s brothers as an evil bunch, but does Joseph bear any responsibility for the bad blood between him and them?
“Joseph’s really into himself,” said Alice Lyons, of Wilkes-Barre, who is singing the role of the narrator.
“At the beginning he’s definitely kind of arrogant and stuck up,” said Ben Steltz, of Wilkes-Barre, who has the title role. “He’s the brother that’s never been disciplined.”
As the story progresses, Lyons said, Joseph matures and develops a more compassionate spirit toward other people.
The brothers also become less selfish, she said. They prove it when they approach Joseph, who has risen to a position of power in Egypt, to beg for food and end up offering to suffer in place of their youngest brother, Benjamin, who seems to be suspected of stealing a valuable cup.
“Seven years earlier, they were only thinking of themselves,” Lyons said. “They would have let Benjamin be taken away, as long as they were OK.”
In some ways, said cast member Dane Bower, of West Wyoming, the show “doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
But there are touching moments, Feigenblatt said. Her favorite takes place when Joseph forgives his brothers and reveals himself. “Can’t you recognize my face? Is it hard to see? That Joseph, who you thought was dead, your brother, is me.”
Along the way to the family’s heart-tugging reunion, there’s plenty of music and dancing in a variety of styles.
“We have everything from a hoedown to ballet, tango and ’70s style for ‘Go, Go, Go, Joseph,’” choreographer Jamie Burns, of Forty Fort, explained.
As for the singing in a variety of musical styles, from calypso to country to French chanson, it’s a delight, musical director Ted Anderson said. “We have some great voices here.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.