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‘Joseph’ back in full Technicolor

Thu., June 11, 2009

CdA Summer Theatre goes back to the future with musical

The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre kicks off its four-show season with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – which, in 1999, was the biggest production this summer-stock theater had ever staged.

Beginning Saturday, the CdA Summer Theatre will show how far it has come in 10 years.

“It’s great to revisit it because the company has grown so much,” said Roger Welch, the producing artist director and the director of this show.

“The lighting we have is a lot more technologically advanced. Our budgets are higher. We have new sets and new costumes.”

All that, plus a 60-person children’s chorus and a homegrown Broadway star.

That star is Steven Booth, a Coeur d’Alene product who cut his teeth at the CdA Summer Theatre with roles in “Pippin” and “West Side Story.”

He has since gone on to appear in a lead role in Broadway’s “Glory Days” and as an understudy in “Avenue Q.” Most recently, Booth played Richie Cunningham in the national tour of a new musical, “Happy Days,” based on the TV show.

When we say recent, we mean recent. He finished the “Happy Days” tour on Saturday and arrived in Coeur d’Alene on Sunday night.

“He has a week to learn the show,” Welch said Monday. “But he learned all of the music ahead of time. He’s so solid, he’ll be great.

“I really wanted him for this show. He’s kind of perfect.”

The 60-person children’s chorus will consist of kids from Spokane and Coeur d’Alene who passed the audition process. They will be on stage almost constantly, on two Egyptian-style pyramids that flank each side of the stage.

“They are very much part of the show,” said Welch. “It’s so great watching them. They know every word of the show.”

The 11-piece orchestra will be directed by CdA Summer Theatre stalwart Steven Dahlke.

“Joseph,” based on the biblical story of the coat of many colors, is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most enduringly popular musicals. Its big production numbers spoof everything from Elvis to country, and it has particular appeal to kids; it was originally written as a children’s show.

“It’s a two-hour party and a great thing to take the kids to, and fun for the adults as well,” said Welch.

Tickets are selling well for this show and for the rest of this summer’s season, which consists of:

• “The Producers,” July 3-18 – The raucous Mel Brooks musical, featuring veterans of the national tour.

• “Dames at Sea,” July 23-Aug. 2 – A light-hearted spoof of the tap-dance musicals of the 1920s and 1930s, starring Ellen Travolta.

• “Miss Saigon,” Aug. 8-22 – The epic story of love and loss in the Vietnam era, featuring a cast drawn substantially from the national tour.

This lineup should help cement the CdA Summer Theatre’s reputation as one of the nation’s top professional summer-stock theaters. While 2009 has been a tough year for other theaters local and nationally, the CdA Summer Theatre is relatively well-positioned.

“We budgeted pretty conservatively this year, to prepare for the worst,” said Welch.

“But we’re already above what we budgeted for (in subscription sales), and that’s a big sigh of relief. We’re so grateful that our audience is still buying tickets.”

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