The Show That Changed My Life

March 27th was World Theatre Day. So I spent a lot of time reflecting on meaningful theatre experiences, performances I’ve attended and shows I’ve been in. One particular production came to mind, that was particularly life changing:

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Yes, Lord Lloyd Weber’s poppy biblical tale was a pretty life changing experience.

I saw the show for the first time when the Donny Osmond touring production premiered in 1992 at the Elgin Theatre. I was mesmerized by it all. So many colours, such fun choreography, an Elvis impersonating Pharaoh, children’s choirs and A MEGAMIX!!! And at the centre of it all was Donny Osmond - sure he was great- and, more importantly, Janet Metz as the Narrator. I think Joseph was the show that initiated my love of beltresses.

I loved it so much my parents took me back to see it two more times. My mom even pulled some strings and managed to get my family backstage for a meet & greet with Donny and Janet Metz!

Joseph made a return visit to Toronto in 1995. A close family friend was in a choral group that was selected to be one of the children’s choirs in the production and I was so envious. I vowed that if I ever had the chance to be in a choir that could end up in Joseph I would do everything I could to be in it.

Cut to 1996.

I was 12 years old and part of a kids theatre company called CharActors Theatre Troupe and it was announced that Joseph would be coming back to Toronto in the spring of 1997 and CharActors was assembling a children’s choir to audition for the show. THIS WAS MY CHANCE! I auditioned for the choir (known as the CharActors Traveling Troupe) with a stirring a capella rendition of “Old Man River” (keep in mind I was 12 and didn’t know any better) and got accepted.

We had weekly choir rehearsals starting in September to prepare for the auditions in December. Our two audition pieces were “One” from A Chorus Line and “The Day After That” from Kiss of the Spiderwoman. We also had to learn the “Entr’acte” from Joseph just in case we made it to the finals… Which we did… And then we won! We were one of the four choirs selected - I was going to be in Joseph!!!

It was all such a blur. Rehearsals started in January, we learned all the fancy clap patterns for “Go, Go, Go, Joseph” and “One More Angel In Heaven,” boppy arm choreo for “Song of the King” and spent loads of time practicing sitting completely still for the entirety of “Close Every Door.” It was all so much fun.

Performances began in March; it was a full circle moment getting to do the show at the Elgin Theatre. The cast was incredible, friendly and generous to all us kids, they would often come up to the rehearsal hall (our holding area) to hang out and make us laugh before shows. Donny would bring his dog, Cocoa up to play with us; you couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, some of the people who I shared the experience with would become some of my closest friends. The CharActors Travelling Troupe was also stacked with some insanely talent young people who would go on to have credible careers in the theatre with roles on Degrassi and appearances at Stratford and other theatres across Canada, some even becoming playwrights.

It was the best of times.

Sadly, we finished performing Joseph in May, but several weeks later at my Bar Mitzvah, we performed the “Joseph Megamix” with zest and professional aplomb. It had been a wild and crazy ride… a dream come true.

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