The hugely successful Broadway musical comedy Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns to the stage at ASU Gammage January 13 – 18. The show is Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s non-stop, musical spectacle and it stars singer/songwriter and actress Diana DeGarno as the narrator and Broadway star Ace Young as Joseph. Also in the cast is valley native, Brian Golub.
While wrapping up performances in Tucson, just ahead of his week long stay in the valley, I had the chance to talk to Brian about the show, his visit back to his home turf, his recent bout with every performer’s nightmare, the dreaded laryngitis, and his time working for Hollywood. I began asking Brian about his character.
Who is Rueben? Rueben is the eldest brother of all of Joseph’s twelve brothers and I’m the one who comes up with the plan to sell Joseph into slavery and get rid of him and come up with all the ideas to get him out of the family, so that’s my role. I’m the villain. I sing a song called One More Angel in Heaven, which is a country, hoe-down, tap number. I’m not the good guy, but I have a change of heart.
The show incorporates all kinds of different musical styles – pop/rock, disco, country. What’s the style you enjoy singing the most? I enjoy singing, well, more contemporary stuff, but I love singing country with a more contemporary feel to it. There’s a calypso song in there as well, and it’s fun; you get to sing in all different styles of music.
Is it more taxing appearing in a show with non-stop singing? It definitely is. It’s exhausting. Once we begin we’re shot out of the cannon. We go for basically two hours straight. There’s an intermission but we’re putting on makeup and changing. We never stop dancing, and because of this kind of show with no dialog in it we’re finding our stamina. It’s very tiring, yeah. The Mega-Mix at the end is about eight minutes and when you consider the first half is thirty-eight minutes we have to do almost a quarter of the first act again. It’s basically the whole show again.
How long have you been on the present tour? We started rehearsals January of 2014, so it’s been about year since we’ve been employed. Our first city was February 17th when we left New York. We go to April 26th of this year. By the time we get to Tempe this will be at about our 239th show and I’ve not missed a single show yet, so that’s good, I’ve done every single one.
How did you get involved? Well, I live in New York and my agent got me an appointment with the show and I just went in and danced and sung and did my thing and got the job. You know, there are thousands who auditioned, but the lucky twenty-six of us got the gig and most of us have stayed with it. We all get on with each other, which is crazy for this length of time of being together.
Is this your first national tour? It is. It’s my first, big national tour, so it’s the first time I’ve been at Gammage which is a thrill because as a kid I used to go there all the time and watch all the shows and want to be on that stage as a performer, so how cool is it to come to my home town and have thousands of people from my home watch me? I have two hundred people I already know who’ve bought tickets, so it’s great.
Do you still have family living in Phoenix? I’m actually living with my mom for the week while I’m here. She lives in Gilbert. My sisters, my nieces and nephews, the whole family lives in Arizona still, and my voice teachers from college are going to come, high-school teachers, drama teachers, so it’s going to be a really crazy reunion. I haven’t seen some of them in twenty years.
Is touring everything you expected? It’s funny, it’s fun, it’s different, you learn to adapt. You learn how to eat out of bowls in your hotel room and make do with things, but it’s… there’s things you miss from your apartment, but it’s cool, you get to see so much of the country and explore the amazing theatres you get to work at. It’s tiring, it’s exhausting ‘cause you’re traveling all the time, even on your days off, so getting a full day off is very hard, but it’s fun, we’re having a really good time.
Many audiences think that ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ came first and ‘Joseph’ later, but this wasn’t the case, was it. That is true. This show was written in ’68 I think. It was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first musical that they wrote together and it was supposed to be a fifteen minute cantata they did for a London school, and then it got expanded and expanded, then it ended up being, you know, this ninety minute to a two hour show that has been produced for over forty years now and it’s one of the biggest hits they’ve had. And they wrote it when they were nineteen or twenty-three, or something like that. And this production is very different. It’s much more contemporary; there’s no children’s choir in this production. The choreography is very … urm, hip-hop. There’s tons of projection. It’s a much more minimal set but contemporary.
Just this week you lost your voice to laryngitis. How does a performer handle that? (Laughs) You cry. You know, we’ve had some people need understudies, but I haven’t. We had two days off and I just don’t talk. I went on complete vocal rest and didn’t speak for forty-eight hours, and I took medicine. Luckily I was able to pull it off, so I’ve been better the last couple of days. It’s the flu season, so that’s the worst part of the time. It’s hard because that’s your job and that’s your instrument that you rely on and, you know, you can’t control it all of the time, so… you know.
You began your career by training to be an opera singer. What made you change direction to musical theatre? I don’t like to sit still and I think in musical theatre you get to play around more and you tell a story a different way than opera does. I really enjoyed opera but I remember singing in a different language and waiting to move around and do things more like that. I mean, opera lets you move around but it’s more stoic, you know, than musical theatre is.
Your bio mentions that you enjoy ‘riffing.’ Maybe its my age, but exactly what is ‘riffing’ and why the apology to Mozart? (Laughs again) Riffing is like, erm, all those notes, you know, like Mariah Carey.
You mean where she sings a whole host of notes when just one will do? Yeah, it’s all over the place. I apologized to Mozart for that one.
And finally, tell us about Hollywood. You appeared with Kristen Bell in ‘When In Rome.’ As this was your first film, was it a good experience? Oh, my gosh, it was incredible. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I’d like to do more of it. It’s just a different beast. In film you only get one chance to do it or a second take and that’s it, and you hope that what they pick is the right one. Smaller acting is different, but the experience itself was… it was so cool to be with her (Kristen Bell) and Angelica Houston and Danny De Vito. I mean, we’re all in the same room and I had to pinch myself, like, what am I doing here? And I got to walk the red carpet in L.A. and hang out with all of them. It was just really, really cool.
For more regarding times, dates and tickets CLICK HERE for the ASU Gammage website.