SJA Theatre to Perform Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

May 17, 2023

The stage is set. The backstage crew and the light techs have refined their cues and timing. The actors have memorized their lines and dances, and the band has rehearsed their songs to perfection. The costumes are, in a word, Amazing! As SJA theater director Ray Walker, Class of 1981, looks on from his seat in the house, the scenes unfold before him, as they did on Broadway when he first encountered Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as the understudy for the lead role on Broadway in 1994.


SJA Theatre’s spring production, which runs from May 18-20 in St. Johnsbury Academy’s Fuller Hall, reimagines the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers, and the coat of many colors. The story is told entirely through songs in a variety of styles, including French ballads, country-western, and calypso. Contemporary contrasts with Biblical. Slapstick comedy contrasts with heartfelt and sincere sentiment. Color contrasts with black and white, and rock and roll contrasts with country, reggae, and the party-induced Mega-Mix.


Senior Aden Marcotte will take on the role of Joseph in the show and is thrilled and excited to be playing the same role Mr. Walker played on Broadway and in the National Touring Company. Aden says, “Working with Mr. Walker, in general, is a huge privilege. I have been extremely lucky to have taken voice lessons with him for about two years and have had the pleasure of having him in multiple classes at school as well. To get a role like this is a huge deal to me, to know the circumstances and who I am learning from given his past experiences as Joseph is just out of this world crazy to think about sometimes.”


The other lead roles in the musical are Siri Jollife ’25 and Claudia Canuto ’26 as the narrators in the play, and senior Rory Higgs as Potiphar/Pharoah. They will be supported by a cast of thirty-five and a pit band of ten students under the direction of Mr. Rowe, SJA Class of 1972. The decision to continue using a live band is a conscious one that Mr. Walker feels separates SJA’s productions from other schools. “Academy Theatre is committed to a live orchestra when many schools use recorded accompaniment,” says Walker.


Backstage, Josh Duncan ’09 oversees the creation of sets and lighting, collaborating with a crew of six students handling lights, audio, and the sets. This dedicated team started designing and building sets at the beginning of March in preparation for this week’s performances.

For Mr. Walker, this is special. He served as the understudy for Donny Osmond in the lead role when this production was on Broadway in New York City. When asked, Mr. Walker can tell stories and talk about his experience performing in the lead role several times in place of Osmond. Walker has also performed as Joseph with the American Musical Theatre in San Jose opposite the original Bell-Paige O’Hara and in the North Carolina Theatre opposite Sheena Easton.


Academy Headmaster Sharon Howell is grateful to have a theater professional such as Walker working with students. “Ray’s an expert not only in performance or direction but also in teaching the art of musical theater to young people,” says Howell. “Having someone of his caliber—not to mention his warmth, humor, and compassion—working with our students is simply a gift.”


This is the second time Mr. Walker has directed this play. The first time was at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory (NCT), which he founded in 2004. One of the challenges, and rewards, of directing is relating a role to a student’s strengths. For Aden, that meant letting him put his own spin on the character. “I was super curious to see what Josephs Mr. Walker wanted me to portray the most, and I was really surprised on the first day of rehearsals when we spoke,” said Aden. “The first thing he said was he wanted my own take on the character. He did not want me to be Donny Osmond as Joseph or Ray Walker as Joseph. He said he needed me to be Aden Marcotte as Joseph. That is what I plan to do. He has given me a lot of creative freedom musically and with the character in general. I always appreciate it when he gives me notes or little things to add. Whenever Mr. Walker gives me advice, it always helps me put a foot in the right direction.”


Mr. Walker adds, “As the character of Joseph interprets his dreams and those around him, it has been my job as Director to interpret a show that I have seen and appeared in many times. “Joseph” is a special show to me, not because I played the role on the stages of Broadway and beyond but because the show has so much heart. As a teacher, Director, and choreographer- I am in a unique position of being able to “pass the torch” of this beloved show directly from my professional experiences. The human connection of passing a show down to the next generation is unique to Musical Theatre and truly extends and expands the art form. My personal history with this show makes this process even more special as I get to share Joseph with these fabulous students at my alma mater, SJA.”


Any theater production with the phrase “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in the title must have spectacular costumes, and this performance plans to deliver. Costumes were purchased from the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, one of the country’s leading regional theatres, as they prepare to update their sets and costumes of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for a future performance. SJA fashion teacher Flo Darling, SJA Class of 2005, has been heavily involved in the costume side of the production, altering and adjusting garments to fit the performers.


When asked about their favorite part of the show, both Aden and Mr. Walker give an insider’s nod to the crowd-pleasing Mega-mix that ends the show. For Aden, it is “a very powerful moment that no matter how many times we rehearse, it still gives me shivers of how well the moment is put together!”


And what is Mr. Walker’s advice for the audience as they settle into their seats and prepare to be amazed by a show that has been a special part of his life for nearly thirty years? “Wrap yourself up in your Dreamcoat and get lost in our dream world story of a boy whose dreams come true. Because it could be you.”


SJA Theatre will perform Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat May 18-20 in St. Johnsbury Academy’s Fuller Hall at 7:00 PM. Advanced Tickets can be purchased through Catamount Arts at

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