To help mark its 45th year in business, Toby’s — The Dinner Theatre of Columbia is serving up something special in its new revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. No less than five female stars from previous Toby’s productions will take turns playing the lead role during the show’s upcoming 10-week run.
The theater’s founder and Artistic Director, Toby Orenstein, calls the plan “crazy and wonderful,” as well as “a big undertaking.” But she is quick to add, “With such a wealth of talent at my fingertips, it was a no-brainer.”
Orenstein seized on the idea of this first-ever five-star “casting coup” as a way to mark the 45th Anniversary of her award-winning Columbia theatre. With the home city of Columbia also celebrating its 50th anniversary this summer, the revival of one of Orenstein’s signature hits was deemed the ideal vehicle.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s infectiously melodic take on the Old Testament story of Joseph, his jealous brothers and the transformational role played by an amazing coat in their lives, has remained a special show to Orenstein. The musical’s popular theme song, “Any Dream Will Do,” might express her own belief in the magic of theater.
“A lot of people go into this as a business, to make a buck,” she once told this writer. “I really went into it to make a difference.”
That mission has not only translated into 45 years of enthralling and lifting up audiences from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. It also led to the opening of her own local performing arts school, the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA).
That school has been where much of the “difference” made by Orenstein is most visible. Over its past 45 years of existence, CCTA has nurtured and developed countless young talents who have gone on to Broadway, to motion pictures, and earned literally dozens of Helen Hayes Awards.
Some of those former students leapt at the chance to show their appreciation by coming back as a central part of her Joseph.
Stepping back into the role of the Narrator when the production opens on June 15 will be Caroline Bowman. The lifelong Columbia resident starred in the original Broadway cast of Kinky Boots before joining the national tour of Evita as Eva Peron. Most recently, Bowman played the leading role of Elphaba in the Broadway smash, Wicked.
Following as the Narrator will be Janine Sunday, who first played the role in a 2008 production of Joseph. Sunday is also a four-time Heen Hayes Award nominee as Best Actress in a Musical, including for Jekyll and Hyde and West Side Story at Toby’s.
Coby Kay Callahan will be the third scheduled Narrator. This Toby’s favorite was singled out by critics in such Toby’s shows as Ragtime, Show Boat, and Shrek: The Musical. She earlier played the Narrator in Joseph in 2012 at the Baltimore extension of Toby’s Dinner Theater.
Cathy Mundy takes over the role in August. The well-known Columbia actress and educator most memorably won a Helen Hayes Award nomination in the role in Toby’s 1997 staging of Joseph, which also went on to be named a Best Musical nominee by the Helen Hayes judges.
Rounding out the list of guest Narrators will be Marykate Brouillet, a graduate of the CCTA program. She has more recently been seen in leading roles at Toby’s in The Addams Family and as Peter Pan in the musical version of J.M. Barrie’s play.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays June 15 through August 27, 2017, at Toby’s the Dinner Theatre of Columbia— 5900 Symphony Woods Road, in Columbia, MD. Reservations are required at (301) 596-6161, (410) 730-8311, or (800) 88TOBYS, or purchase them through Ticketmaster.