If Kerry Splitt weren’t an Ishmalite, she would be at her Vienna home watching television. But as a chorus member in the Vienna Youth Players’ production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," the 11-year-old has been busy in rehearsal singing about Joseph’s trials as a Hebrew in a foreign land.
"I’ve really enjoyed it this year. I like the fact that the whole play is just music," said Kerry, who has told her family, friends and teachers to come see her perform.
In its 11th year, the Vienna Youth Players prepares to weave a tale of reconciliation and forgiveness. This year’s production, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," tells the biblical story of Joseph as he is sold into slavery by his brothers, rises in rank as an Egyptian leader and reconciles with the family that had once betrayed him.
Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the musical comes to the director with no staging notes. As a result, the 41 performers and the 20 backstage crew members of this production play a diversity of styles from country-western to slapstick to rock.
"'Joseph'’s a really fun show," said director Babs Dyer. "It’s a campy show, and I love the artistic freedom. For director, you can make it what you want."
Since June 22, the performers, ranging from ages 11 to 19 and coming from all over Northern Virginia, have rehearsed music and staging while the backstage crew designed the lighting, sound and props. Some participants have been in VYP productions for years, while the newer participants learn the ropes from the veterans.
"It’s just a fun place to be around. Plus, it gives me something to do during the summer," said Fairfax High School graduate Tucker Dyer, 18, who plays the Pharaoh. Dyer plans to attend Pace University and major in musical theater and minor in computer arts.
Fellow cast member Eric Fletcher agreed. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is Fletcher’s seventh production with the Vienna Youth Players. Fletcher, a Madison High School graduate, will attend Virginia Commonwealth University and major in theater performance.
"It’s just a really good group of people. It’s a great way to spend the summer," Fletcher said.
This production will be Fletcher’s second time to play the role of Joseph. He first played Joseph in 8th grade, in a school production at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Vienna.
"It’s a lot different," replied Fletcher, when asked what it was like performing the same role again. "I’m a lot more mature now, so I can get into depth with the character."
For McLean resident Joe Cramer, performing in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was an opportunity he couldn’t miss. Cramer has liked the musical ever since he first heard it at age 10. Although now 19, this is Cramer’s first production with Vienna Youth Players. He plays the oldest brother Reuben.
"It’s the ultimate human interest story. There are so many ups and downs," said Cramer, who attends Brigham Young University and plans to major in political science. "Depending on where you are in life, different songs apply to you."
Cramer paused. He added another reason why he liked the musical so much. "Plus, my name is Joseph," Cramer said.