The amazing Technicolor REPEAT
Going back to 1986, Forest Grove High School's theater department has staged three versions of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical
On April 27, some audience members will experience a potent kind of déjà vu when 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' opens for its third run at Forest Grove High School.
By now, the musical is a favorite of many of the drama students.
Madeline Duyck didn't even need a script. Her older siblings Emily and Sean were in the children's choir in 1997, and 'Joseph' is her dad's favorite musical. So, the color song is a repeated family favorite.
Alumna Lisa Browning strains her memory to recall the right color order. 'Is it ochre or peach that comes first?'
It might be old news to some, but the Bible-based musical is still a favorite and the new crop of kids is eager to put its stamp on the show.
Junior Allison Fletcher has been watching the public television version since she was a child, and her job as the narrator is her dream role.
'You've heard about it, but it's still new for you,' she said.
The 1986 production was something a little different for Forest Grove at the time. The choir director, Rod Rasmus, was 'very classical,' said Mickey Johnson, the 1986 director.
For whatever reason, 'this was one I was able to convince him to work on,' Johnson said.
Browning, who played the narrator that year, speculated that it might have been the variety of music styles in 'Joseph.'
'It's one of the few Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals that I enjoy. It's one of the more extreme things that he's done,' she said. 'It shows music and styles throughout history. Country, 40s-style, Elvis, rap …'
Johnson assumes that he just finally gave in. But regardless, an unintentional tradition was born.
The show repeated in 1997 under the direction of Gary McJunkin. Johnson was retired by then but returned to help with the set.
'I don't know how they'll do it this year,' said Johnson.
So much has changed since 1986. 'Joseph' was the third spring production performed in the current building, but the cast was much smaller.
'I think maybe the directors have gotten braver or younger,' said Johnson. 'I was always too close to the razor edge of sanity to have too many kids.'
The 1997 show featured a 100-member kids choir, said Bonnie McCabe, who directed the choir that year. There were also 13 sibling sets.
'Technically a lot has changed,' said junior Allison Fletcher. The lighting and staging is set by John Anderberg, an alumnus of the Johnson era.
'I'm totally excited to see the set. He'll just visualize it and tell you about it, and when you actually see it, it's even better,' said Fletcher.
'When we did it (in 1986), Joseph was flown down from the fly space at the end as if he was coming from heaven,' said Johnson, who is curious to see how Anderberg will handle that one.
Browning recalls the production fondly. 'It was a highlight for me,' the former narrator said. 'I wore this silvery, clingy costume.'
Fletcher, who will play the same role, chimed in: 'My costume is bright red and orange. It looks like an Indian sari.'
'Mine is a rented Jedi costume,' said Chano Garcia, who plays Joseph.
But the crowning costume of them all is the coat. Johnson first got it from Beaverton High School, where all the costumes were homemade.
The same colorful coats will be unveiled again in this year's production.
'Back then, you didn't even breathe on it. You had to be so careful,' he said.
Rumor also has it that the alumni may be asked to join the cast in song on stage for the last performance. Browning, for her part, is excited for the spotlight opportunity.
'I'm a Leo, and any time I can get on stage …' she said.
She definitely hasn't forgotten the lyrics. Ever since high school she has been an avid fan. Browning owns the movie on DVD and has the CD soundtrack. She's even seen it on Broadway a couple of times.
'When Donny Osmond as Joseph came to Portland, it was awesome!,' she exclaimed, and then emphasized the part when he rips off his shirt.
When Forest Grove High School performed it in 1997, Browning was living in Bend and came back just to see it.
'We never videoed the 1986 version,' Browning said ruefully.
Junior Madeline Duyck, who plays Potiphar's wife in this year's production, listens earnestly and promises to make sure the high school drama department keeps a copy of the DVD as a historical record of the 'Joseph' tradition.