Perry Ryan production puts a Biblical spin on ‘Dreamcoat’

Perry Ryan production puts a Biblical spin on ‘Dreamcoat’

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is not a small show, no matter what company presents it. And it was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, so it’s not an easy show musically, either.

But Perry Ryan Theater Co., founded in 2022 in Bentonville, has added another layer to songs, dances, makeup, costumes and lights. Joseph is not just a character to the cast and crew, and the story isn’t just something lighthearted that Webber and Rice wrote for kids way back in 1968 — before “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita.”

“The example of Joseph from the Bible has majorly impacted my life,” says Rocky Favia III of Siloam Springs, who plays the title character. “My middle name is actually Joseph, and his actions of faith, purity, humility and love come to my mind often, whenever I’m with people who treat me similarly to how those around Joseph treated him.

“That respect for Joseph has actually been the biggest obstacle to playing him in a non-mentally compromising way,” he goes on. “Since this Joseph is an adaptation of the one I look up to from the Bible, I’ve had to shift my mind in regard to how he’d think in and react to certain situations. It’s been good practice in letting go of pre-conceived judgements.”

Ty Volz of Rogers takes his character much more seriously than one might expect, too. Pharaoh, he says, isn’t just the comic relief of the hip-swiveling Elvis persona.

“I’ve actually always wanted to play Pharaoh,” says Volz, who made his debut in Northwest Arkansas in a production of “Dreamcoat” at Arkansas Public Theatre around 2005. Having already created an Elvis costume for his work as a character performer, Volz decided to show up to the Perry Ryan Theater Co. auditions dressed for the role he wanted. Until intermission, he portrays one of Joseph’s brothers, then it’s 20 minutes of makeup and a whole new character.

“Pharaoh’s story is really a pivotal part of the Bible, not just the play,” Volz says. “It took Pharaoh’s ingenuity to put Joseph in a position of power and save Egypt from the famine. So I have to think about not just the Elvis character, but Pharaoh as the king, making life-changing choices for his people, and who Pharaoh is on the inside, too.”

Perry Ryan founder Kayla Grizzard let colleague Mia Gracey convince her to try something potentially life changing for the company by producing “Dreamcoat,” she admits. Her goal in creating the company was to bring in New York and Nashville professionals she knew from her time there, not just to teach and influence aspiring local talent but to bring “the kind of theater that made me fall in love with it” to Northwest Arkansas. That led to debuting Perry Ryan with “Broadway In Bentonville,” an evening of Broadway hits that featured professionals like Francesca Noe of Nashville, followed in 2023 with a performance by Eryn LeCroy, who made her Broadway debut in 2018 in the iconic role of Christine Daae in “The Phantom of the Opera.”

“But Mia has a big heart for wanting to invest in and nurture local talent,” Grizzard says. “So this is our first full production, cast locally. It’s kind of a test…”

The cast has been at work since the new year, many of them juggling shows with other local companies.

“That’s part of why we cast so early, before Christmas,” Grizzard says. “We want to be collaborative [with other companies] not competitive.

“Theater to me is joy and unity,” she says. “For me, this show specifically is a shared experience with people we might not otherwise do life with.”

“I have worked with a lot of theaters in the area, along with many in other parts of the country, and I think that Perry Ryan is the most professionally run and enjoyable group I have been involved with,” says Michael Hooper, who portrays Jacob, Joseph’s father. “All of the staff are completely dedicated to putting on a professional-level show.

“The music and story are so fun and meaningful,” he adds, that everybody should leave the theater with “a gigantic smile and many songs on their lips.”



Perry Ryan Theater Co.:

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’

WHEN — 6 p.m. March 7-8; 1 & 6 p.m. March 9

WHERE — Grace Point Church, 1201 McCollum Road in Bentonville

COST — $25-$60


Categories: Theater