More than 11 years ago — July 2001, to be exact — the first time that former Broadway dancer John Leggio directed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, the show was so popular that it out-pulled previous Show Palace favorites The Music Man and Oklahoma!
Joseph is Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice's whimsical take on the Biblical story of Jacob, whose sons grow jealous of their father's favorite, Joseph, and sell him into slavery, only to see him become the chief adviser to a neighboring pharaoh from whom they must subsequently beg for food.
The major role of Narrator was played by Kissy Simmons, who, two years later, landed the lead female role in The Lion King on Broadway.
So it's with much anticipation that the Show Palace is bringing back both Leggio and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for another showing (but not Simmons, who is performing in the Las Vegas version of The Lion King). It opens March 1 and continues through April 21.
"This show is bigger, much bigger than the first one," Leggio said this week. For one thing, in the intervening years, the Show Palace talent pool has grown exponentially, thanks to a good reputation among performers who spread the word. For another, the theater's owners and production crew, led by award-winning designer Tom Hansen, have improved every aspect of the venue, from seating, to lighting, sound and set and stage design.
"We have a much more (experienced) cast" for this show, Leggio said. "It's a really exciting group of people — well-rounded and many close to be being eligible to be (in) Equity."
The adult cast of 25 includes both Show Palace veterans and several highly credentialed newcomers, plus 30 preteens in the chorus, for a total of 55.
"We have 18 kids in each show," Leggio said. The homeschooled kids do the matinees; the others play the evenings, he said. "And there's some overlap," with some youngsters doing all shows.
A bonus for the younger cast members is "it's an opportunity for them to learn the theater — auditioning, learning rehearsal protocol, and the like," Leggio said. The show's huge cast also gets more potential actors aware of the Show Palace, he added.
Playing Joseph is Kevin Korczynski, who played big brother Lon in last season's Meet Me in St. Louis. He's been in five productions of Joseph, including the 1995 Broadway Tour as a member of the children's choir.
Monica Moran will play the Narrator. Moran was in the national tour of Annie and has been in many regional theater productions, playing Val in A Chorus Line, Penny in Honk! and performing with Tony- and Emmy-winning actor Julie Harris in The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Itzy Friedman plays the dual roles of patriarch Jacob and the wealthy Potiphar; Justin Lore (New York Nights) plays brother Reuben. Tokyo Disneyland performer Dan Johnson plays Simeon; Southern gospel singer Blaine Sumler plays brother Levi and the Pharoah. Other familiar names include Derek Baxter (Principal in This Magic Moment) as Isacher and the Baker; Bo Price (South Pacific, Kiss Me, Kate) as Asher; Nick Orfanella ('50s and '60s Revue) as Judah, as well as Kate O'Connell, Jill Godfrey, Megan Morgan, Lindsay Nantz, Heather Baird (Judy in 9 to 5), among the sons' wives.
Award-winning dancer Mark Anthony Jelks is musical director.
The show is less than two hours and would appeal to everyone in the family.