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WFHS Theatre brings ‘Joseph’ to the stage

Joseph (portrayed by Gunnar Blakeway-Walen) tries on his multicolored coat for the first time. Daniel Determan / West Fargo Pioneer1 / 2
Jacob (left, portrayed by Ross Wicklund) sings "Joseph's Coat" to his favorite son. Daniel Determan / West Fargo Pioneer 2 / 2

The West Fargo High School Theatre is bringing another classic to life this weekend with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

“It is a fan favorite,” director Adam Pankow said. “Lots of people have asked me about doing this one at some point. It is a great family show, and a worthy piece to let our students enjoy being a part of.”

Pankow, in his eighth year with the West Fargo theatre department, said that “Joseph” will be performed in order to provide balance to their theatre season. In the winter, they will perform well-known musical “Sweet Charity,” which calls for a more female-heavy cast.

“This one definitely skews on the side of the men in our department,” Pankow said.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” follows the Biblical story of Joseph, a prophetic dreamer who journeys to Egypt after being sold into slavery by his 11 brothers, who are jealous of Joseph’s status as the “favorite son.”

Through his dreams, Joseph leads the Egyptians through famine, which eventually brings Joseph and his estranged brothers face-to-face, capping off a long series of adventures in which Joseph’s spirit and humanity are continually challenged.

Despite being a traditional Bible story, the show typically features various genres of contemporary music, including rock ‘n’ roll and techno.

“Part of the difficulty of doing a piece that is so familiar to so many people is doing it in a way that we can put our own stamp on it and say ‘this is West Fargo High’s production, and not the same one that we have seen a million times,’” Pankow said. “Obviously, the story doesn’t change, so our first thing that I wanted to do when talking to other designers was make sure this was our own show.”

One way the department is putting its own stamp on the show is with an increased production value, the likes of which have not been used in the West Fargo Auditorium before. Intelligent, moving feature lights are being used for the first time, and LED tape will line the entire set.

“This is a show that proves — if it wasn’t apparent already — how the arts can really pull together all of the different areas of education,” Pankow said.

Another way is by blending aspects of previous versions of the show, providing something the audience is not used to seeing.

“The problem with this show is that I have seen productions where they take it as just the biblical story — which is a valid interpretation — or they take it as just a contemporary piece and everybody looks like they are from outer space,” Pankow said. “I wanted to have a mash-up of those two things, because the title lends itself to that mash-up.”

Playing into that mash-up, the cast will wear biblical clothing, but in bright, vibrant colors. The pyramids on set will be closer to neon yellow than the traditional sandy yellow.

With all that has gone into this production, which has been in the works for roughly two months, expectations amongst the cast, crew and director are understandably high.

“I think this will go down as being one of those ‘benchmark productions’ for the department and community,” Pankow said. “It is also kind of a benchmark to show the future of where this district is going and the kind of opportunities they want students to have.”

Performances of “Joseph” are scheduled for November 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., as well as November 17 and 24 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at and phone reservations can be made by calling 701.499.1971 from 4-6 p.m. Seats are priced $8 for adults and $6 for students.

The West High School Close-up group is hosting a pasta dinner before the play on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15 and 16. Food will be served from 6 – 7:20 p.m.  and will cost $7 per person.