Comparing Colored Coats

Two productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” go head-to-head, reviewed by veteran cast members themselves.


Photo Courtesy of Danielle Moran

The cast of Horizon Honors’ “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”(2010) pose in front of the set of their school production, with Elias Roth (Joseph) lying on the ground in his colored coat (front left).

Danielle Moran, Columnist

Let’s talk about me.

I am a musical child.

Musical in that I pound on the piano keys and sing until my lungs burst; and musical in that I find broadway productions to be awesome. They’re totally my thing. So, you could imagine how excited I was on Christmas day, when I opened up the nice little envelope with my name on it that held tickets to see the production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Gammage that upcoming month. This was a super pleasant surprise; not only because I’m a musical child and musicals are my thing, but also because when I was in sixth grade, I performed in Horizon Honors’ production of Joseph myself. Granted, I was only in the Children’s Choir since it was a high school production, but to this day I still believe that that was the best musical Horizon Honors has put on (no bias involved, cross my heart). So let’s talk some more me.

I am also an opinionated child.

Not so barbarously opinionated that if a girl wearing a color I didn’t like walked past me on the street, I’d give her the evil eye and kick dirt in her face. But opinionated enough that when comparing two things I have connections with, I will strongly stand by my view. In this scenario, my view is that the Gammage version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat cannot compare to that of Horizon Honors.

As with comparing any two things, there will always be differences and there will always be similarities. Maybe it was the lack of a Children’s Choir or the modern-day Nikes being worn by characters of the Bible’s Book of Genesis, but something about the Gammage performance made me favor the Eagle rendition more.

To begin, I found the voices of the main characters in Gammage’s cast to be almost unbearable when compared to the voices of the Eagles. HH’s Joseph was played by senior (at the time) Elias Roth, class of 2010, who seemed to portray the character in a more genuine manner than did Gammage’s Ace Young. Likewise, HH split the role of the Narrator into two, and casted Ashlee Bahr (class of 2012) and Kai Decker (class of  2010), who both sang at a better level than did Gammage’s Diana DeGarmo despite their young age.

I also noticed that the scenes that were meant to be comical were better executed in the high school production than with the traveling tour. Since I was in the musical before, there were several instances where I was expecting to laugh, because that’s when people laughed when we performed it. But Gammage’s audience did not laugh nearly as much as they could have, due to the director did not bringing enough attention to the parts that were meant to be silly.

Now please don’t get the idea that Joseph at Gammage was so incredibly awful that simple high school students could out-sing paid actors and actresses. There were definitely parts of the show that were extremely enjoyable. Songs such as “One More Angel In Heaven,” “Pharaoh’s Story,” and “Those Canaan Days” had catchy music, exciting dance routines, and definitely earned the passionate applause they were given.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a remarkable production, critically acclaimed worldwide. I don’t want to say I was disappointed with the Gammage rendition, because I wasn’t entirely! Rather, I am more pleased with the fact that Horizon Honors was able to pull off an adaptation of the same musical that surpassed a travelling tour (in my opinion). There were assets and hindrances to both, but in the end, the Eagles’ pluses outshined Gammage’s by more than just a colored coat.



Senior Bennett Wood and junior Paige Lockwood, students at Horizon Honors, were members of the school’s production and also saw the show at Gammage. They were given the opportunity to meet the cast and watch the show with ASU’s Rising Star Program – a program that honors students aspiring to be the next Gammage superstar. They shared their thoughts with me about the two:

The Horizon Sun: How did you like the professional version? Was it what you were expecting?

Bennett Wood: I loved it! Because I was in the show at Horizon as a seventh grader in the children’s chorus, watching it be performed live with professional actors brought back so many unforgettable memories. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect! I was preparing myself for anything, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Paige Lockwood: I really enjoyed the show. It had been a long time since I had seen it and heard all the music, and it was great to see it in the audience rather than on stage. I didn’t really know what to expect other than what I already knew from being in the show in sixth grade. At the Rising Stars dinner, the ensemble actors we met told us there was more modern dancing like hip hop, so it was interesting to see them interpret it differently and in a fun, energetic way.

The Sun: How did you like it compared to Horizon’s version? Did you prefer one to the other?

BW: I can’t choose one I liked better because I’m biased, but they were [extremely] different as well! There were different parts of each I preferred over the other. I preferred Horizon’s Elias Roth’s Joseph over Ace Young’s, because their voices are so different and Eli’s fit Joseph’s character more. I preferred Horizon’s Ashlee Bahr and Kai Decker being dual narrators over Diana DeGarmo being the sole narrator. However, musically, I can’t chose ours or the professional production.

PL: Compared to the Horizon show, I definitely believe the Gammage cast had a stronger ensemble. Their dancing and movement was so in sync, the singing was strong with great variety, and all of their characters were so distinct and just absolutely amazing. Of course, this comes with being professional actors. The leads of the Gammage show, Joseph and the Narrator, were spectacular as well, but I thought that the three lead actors in Horizon’s show had much more emotion and intonation in their performances. Another aspect of the show that amazed me was the lighting. Obviously our drama program does not have access to as much technology for lighting as Gammage, but the way they used it for telling the story and adding color was fantastic.

The Sun: What was your favorite part of Gammage’s production?

BW: I have two. The whole song of Those Canaan Days being one of them. Just the musicality and the chills that song have me. Maile power songs are in a dream I have to perform in, and that song being one of the best male songs in a Broadway musical, in my opinion, has such an amazing and unique sound. My second favorite part was what the newer version changed set wise. I loved using the projectors to project up different patterns and videos that intrigued the audience and kept us interested. Plus the entire set became Joseph’s coat, so that in itself was unbelievable incredible.

PL: I hold all the songs and aspects of the show dear to my heart, but my absolute favorite part of the entire Gammage production was Those Canaan Days. The brothers were absolutely hilarious and the songs had so much character in it. The acapella singing they did was amazing and their routine with the dishes was spot on and so fun to watch. Some of my favorite parts were the Potiphar scene, One More Angel in Heaven, the Pharaoh, and the Megamix.

The Sun: What was something about Gammage’s show that you didn’t like vrey much? Or something that you thought Horizon did better with in their production?

BW: [In the scene after Joseph was sold to Ishmaelites] Horizon used a camel! At the gift shop for the show at Gammage, they were selling stuffed camels with Joseph’s logo printed on the side of it, but there was no camel in the show! Horizon used a camel costume with two girls inside it and they trekked around the room and it was hilarious and awesome. Also, I understand that this is because it’s not possible with a touring Broadway company, but there was no children’s chorus… so that was upsetting.

PL: Something I didn’t really like about the show was the opening. It shows Joseph asleep, dreaming. Then he wakes up a and is shown going through highschool, college, and into adulthood as someone in the modern day. I understand that they were trying to display a different kind of “dreamer” (since the theme is that anyone can have their dream come true) and keep the modern twist, but I didn’t think it was necessary.