By ROBERT LEBZELTER



Special Sections Editor

bobleb@starbeacon.com

SHTABULA - - Chris D'Itri was busy this week preparing for tonight's opening of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

That's the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical at First Presbyterian Church, 4317 Park Ave.

He did the play six years ago. But this time, Sue Broadstreet is handling the costumes and D'Itri is more than impressed.

"The costumes look like they came from Broadway. The attention to detail is amazing, especially the Egyptian scene," D'Itri said.

The play runs this weekend and next. Friday night performances start at 8:30 p.m., with doors opening at 8. On Saturdays and Sundays, doors open at 7:30 and the play starts at 8.

The musical is a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph, who was his father's favorite. His 11 brothers were more than jealous and sold him into slavery. When Joseph refuses the advances of his owner's wife, he ends up in jail.

In jail, he becomes popular because of his ability to interpret dreams. The pharaoh hears about Joseph's ability and he becomes the pharaoh's right-hand man.

Joseph is played by Joshua Theilan. The mother-daughter team of Sally and Alexandra Van Allen are narrating.

"Sally has this God-given talent to harmonize. She brings so much depth to the music," D'Itri said.

Mark Pendleton plays Levi, with Tywan Jackson as Judah. Steve DeAnna plays the pharaoh.

Amongst the cast of 35 are two businessmen making their acting debut as guards, Bill "Major Savings" Hyland of the Outdoor Army-Navy Store and Gerry Giangola of Giangola Insurance.

They are far from the only novices, though.

D'Itri estimates this is the first play for 65 percent of the cast.

He says his productions may attract newer talent because they are often performed in churches with religious themes. He says people who perform in churches are attracted to his projects.

"All have talent and sing well and dance. It's kind of an untapped talent. It's a good way for them to show their talents outside their own niche."

Among the musical highlights is the Joseph's song "Close Every Door."

"There are no sets. Very simply, we let the story tell itself," D'Itri said.

As with many D'Itri productions, the play is free, but a freewill donation will be accepted.

Proceeds will help fund the church youth group's mission trip to New Mexico, where the kids will help build a playground, run a vacation Bible school and help less fortunate with home repairs.

D'Itri also has advice for those planning to attend. If possible, go the first weekend. People tend to wait until the second weekend and get shut out.

"We can accommodate 300 people," he said.

You can bet if D'Itri has a production going on, he's got another on the backburner.

He's already scheduled "Rock Nativity" for Christmas. He hasn't done it in three years.

"I try to rotate," D'Itri said. "People get tired of seeing the same show every year."

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