Over the past few years, Jared Oxborough has played a series of dark, brooding characters, from Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar" to Radames in "Aida."
Now, the actor is taking on a different type of role: the bright title character in "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat," which opens this week at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
"It's nice to do something nice," Oxborough said. "Though I'm not used to playing these happy roles."
While this is Oxborough's first time in the role, Jodi Carmeli is taking her third turn as the narrator in the musical. How does she keep it fresh?
"The time off does the trick. So far it's really been a fun experience to come back to. It's a fresh and new show, but with the added benefit is that my body kind of remembers it," Carmeli said.
The fact that Chanhassen has done the show twice previously in the last few years also makes the process of getting the show on its feet easier.
"Everyone points you in the right direction. They know what works and what hasn't worked," Oxborough said. "That's good, because there is two and a half weeks of rehearsal. You blink and then you are on stage."
Working with director Michael Brindisi and choreographer Tamara Kangas Erickson has also helped Oxborough and the rest of the cast, who are mostly new to the show.
"When you do a show a third time you ultimately fix everything. They have such a good grasp on the show. They are taking advantage of some dramatic moments. They are not just brushing things over," Oxborough said.
The experience also allows for some minor tweaks along the way.
"Our music director (Andrew Cooke) has embellished the score a bit and added some supporting music. It has made it a little richer. Our own little touch here and there makes a big difference without messing with the integrity of the show," Carmeli said.
The show is an early creation from Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics). In it, the composer tries on plenty of musical identities, from rock to reggae to a country hoedown.
"He wrote this when he was a teenager and originally meant it for his church. It's a children's show that just relates to everyone... and every song is a toe tapper," Oxborough said.
"It's a nice way to add a comedic touch to the story that a lot of people really believe in and take seriously. It's still reverent. It doesn't offend anyone. It supports your beliefs and the story," Carmeli said.
The show is scheduled to run for nearly five months, which is longer than most productions in the Twin Cities. For the actors, there is the challenge to keeping it fresh. Carmeli, a veteran of several Chanhassen productions and did a two-year tour of Europe with "Grease," knows this well.
"The first couple of months just speak for themselves. You see what the audience likes and doesn't like. After that is a period when you find your groove. You do get frisky at the end and that's when you call on your fellow actors to help out, always be in the moment and don't phone it in," she said.