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“Joseph” Returns to the Community Center Stage with a New Vision

Mar 10, 2016 09:40AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

South Valley - After seven years, Riverton Arts Council is bringing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” back to the Sandra N. Lloyd Community Center stage.

“Joseph,” a comedic retelling of a Bible story, was first performed at the by the council in 2003, and made a comeback in 2009. Vicki Wartman, who choreographed the 2009 run of “Joseph,” is back as director and choreographer for this year’s production with a new vision. 

Wartman, who’s been a dance instructor for years, found a new passion volunteering at the Olive Osmond Hearing Fund, which raises awareness for the deaf and hard of hearing, so she’s weaving sign language into the dance numbers in the show, and she’s working to get American Sign Language interpreters to interpret the show on select performance nights. 

Justin Osmond, Olive Osmond Hearing Fund founder, said he’s hearing impaired himself and knows what it is like to miss out on part of a play by misunderstanding grammar or verbs within the show.

“It’s nice to have interpreters there,” he said. “Sign language is very theatrical. It’s 80 percent body language and facial expressions, so it’s a good fit in theater.” 

Osmond, who said he misses watching his uncle Donny Osmond play the role of Joseph, said Wartman’s version of the show is sure to “bring an abundance of joy to Riverton,” because he said Wartman is one of the most talented people he knows in the arts realm. 

The plot of “Joseph” follows a young man who is sold into slavery by his brothers and later becomes second-in-command to the Pharaoh.

“Joseph” is such a silly show that oftentimes directors add their own inside jokes into the script, Wartman said. She said she’s seen directors add references to the pop culture hits such as “Austin Powers” and “Greece” into the “Joseph” script, but said that’s not part of her plan for this show. 

“It’s a good story all by itself, without those jokes that the audience members may or may not understand,” Wartman said. 

While the arts council isn’t going “all out” on the inside jokes, they are going all out on the special effects, Wartman said. She said it’s a “dream come true type of show” for the technical crew of “Joseph” because there are so many fun things to do with lighting and sound. 

“It’s so high-energy,” Wartman said. “It’s a good starter show for those who don’t usually attend theater because it’s only an hour and a half.” 

Brittany Hathaway, stage manager, said “Joseph” is the ideal show for her to be part of because it’s a contrast to the dark or more serious and emotional plays, like “Les Miserables,” that she’s used to being involved in. 

Hathaway has been involved in Riverton theatrical productions for years, she said. She moved to Massachusetts for a while, but as soon as she got back to Utah, she began working with them again, she said. 

“What I think about Riverton is that it doesn’t look like community theater because they get people who really know how a production works,” she said. “I’ve done professional theater before, and Riverton almost feels more like the professional shows than the community shows that I’ve done, because they hold themselves to a higher standard.” 

Each member of the cast and crew volunteers his or her time, Wartman said. Wartman prefers to do shows where people volunteer their time because the show is driven entirely by passion and fun.

Katy King, 22, said trying to balance school, work and rehearsals is a challenge, but it’s worth it to spend some family time doing things that they love. 

King is playing the lead female role of the narrator, her father is playing one of Joseph’s brothers and her mother is assistant directing. 

“My parents actually met in high school doing a musical,” she said. “When I was a kid we would do shows together all the time, and I was in ‘Joseph’ before with my dad.” 

It’s been a while since they’ve done a play together because King recently got home from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so she said she’s super excited for this nostalgic experience. 

“Joseph” will run from March 10-21 with shows every day except for Wednesdays and Sundays. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., with a special matinee showing on March 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale now, and may be purchased at http://rivertonartscouncil.org or at the door on performance nights.

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