St. John Vianney fulfills dreams with ‘Joseph’

Jan Touney
Parishioners from St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf rehearse “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” during a rehearsal. The musical was held last week.

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Call it a dream fulfilled. St. John Vianney’s production of “Joseph and the Ama­zing Technicolor Dream­coat” drew large crowds March 5-8 and freewill offerings that will benefit adults, families and children participating in Hu­mility Homes and Ser­vices’ housing programs and supportive services.

“God has given all of us many different gifts, and when we work together, fueled by the Holy Spirit, our gifts are transformed into something truly awesome,” Music Director Eleanor Kiel wrote in the performance program. More than 120 people “came together to sing, play, create, organize, promote, fundraise, support, feed and encourage.”

In the process, they learned much about the story of Joseph, told in Genesis. Lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber shaped the biblical story of betrayal, forgiveness, mercy and love into a rollicking musical. St. John Vianney cast and crew gave their hearts and souls to the production.

“It was a great experience,” said parishioner Andy Burman. He played the title role of Joseph, fulfilling an item on his bucket list. Two of his sons, Ben, 9, and Will, 6, also participated. Ben played the baker and Will performed in the children’s choir. Both boys attend Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf.

Not every parish has the ability to pull off a community theater production with a full orchestra, Andy said. “We’re so lucky to have all of that.” He felt honored to work with Kiel and with narrator Michelle Steen as well as the many other performers, some of whom acted in their first musical.

Auditions took place in November and rehearsals began in December. “It was very intense the last six weeks or so,” said Andy, who works as senior communications specialist with Genesis Health System in Davenport.

Two years ago, he portrayed Judas in St. John Vianney’s performance of Godspell. He had a hunch he would be asked to play Joseph or the Pharaoh in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” “I’ve been singing at church for probably 20 years,” he said. “I have a lot of training.”

Andy studied both roles and learned a lot about Joseph, “who certainly had a challenging life being sold into slavery and overcoming challenges. It really makes me feel fortunate. The challenges I face in my life are not that big of a deal.”

He also appreciated getting to know people he might not otherwise get to know in such a large parish. “It was great to expand your church family,” he said.

Julie Mishler, the parish’s office manager, played one of Joseph’s brothers, Naphtali, and enjoyed that experience. She also appreciated attendance at the four performances. The Sunday matinee sold out.

“We did a lot of fundraising and had a lot of donors to support the shows so that our expenses could be covered,” she said. That means that the money from ticket donations (a freewill offering) and concessions will go to Humility Homes and Services.

Andy said he is ready to do another musical with the parish, but “probably not as big a role. I want to share the spotlight with others. My son Ben wants to do it again. He was in tears when it was over.”

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