BWW Interview: Erica Clare of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the first publicly performed collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, first appeared on Broadway in 1982. The musical actually began its life as a short pop cantata in London, and it was modified and expanded a number of times before it appeared on Broadway. The musical is based on the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis. In the musical, the story about Joseph is told by the Narrator, a character who exists outside the time and place in which the story takes place. It's the Narrator's job to engage the audience and draw them into the story of Joseph. Broadway World recently spoke to Erica Clare, who portrays the Narrator in the upcoming production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre.
BWW: How did you first become interested in theatre and how did you become an actor?
Clare: Funny enough, it was because of Joseph... I was five years old, and my church was doing a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My mom always wanted to be in a musical, so when she auditioned, she asked if her daughter could be in it, too! I was always singing around the house and performing my own plays, so she thought the stage would be a good fit. Theatre was really a family affair for me growing up; my mom and I would perform in community theatre productions, my dad would run spot lights, and my brother would just loudly sing from the audience. It's funny, I've never wanted to do anything else with my life. I feel really fortunate to have found my passion at such a young age and now am able to make a career doing what I love.
BWW: What is your favorite role to date?
Clare: Last year, I got to play a stepsister in Cinderella at Off-Broadway theatre. It's one of my favorite roles because it was so different from any other role I've played. I had a chance to be so silly and mean onstage, which is completely different from the sweet, appealing roles I normally play. Honestly, making ugly faces and being over the top and goofy was so much fun for me.
BWW: If you could play any role, no matter whether or not you are the right age, gender, etc., what role would you want to play and why?
Clare: I would love to play Sally Bowles in Cabaret. She is my ultimate dream role because she's such a damaged person but carries herself with so much strength. She goes through so much in the course of the show, but she always has this incredible, positive spirit. I relate to her in that way and even in the worst of situations, I always try to find the good.
BWW: I understand you performed in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as a child. How has your experience of the show changed over the years?
Clare: It's so cool to revisit this show again. It's my third time doing the show. I also played the Narrator when I was 14, but I split the role with two other girls. At that time, I was a stronger dancer than singer, so I think I danced more than I sang in the show. I remember looking up to the woman who played the Narrator when I was a kid so much; therefore, it's really cool to work with the children in our show. It's a very full-circle moment, and I want to encourage these kids in our show to keep dreaming. Who knows, maybe they will have a chance to play the Narrator one day too!
BWW: What is the most challenging part of the Narrator role?
Clare: The vocals are very demanding. It's straight singing for almost two hours and a lot of high belting. During this process I've had to be very responsible-going to bed early, making sure I'm not talking more than I should be, closely watching my diet, and taking my vitamins. The Narrator is onstage a lot, without very many breaks. It's more of a marathon than a sprint, so it's been a challenge trying to pace myself throughout the show.
BWW: What do you like the most about playing the role of Narrator?
Clare: I love connecting with the children. At the beginning, my character is a brand-new Sunday school teacher that the children are not interested in listening to at all. I have to get the children to pay attention and make them want to listen to this story. In that way, I am also working to involve the audience and grab their attention as well. Making the connection with the kids is really special though because I remember what it was like being in their shoes. I also enjoy connecting/interacting with the rest of the characters in the show. We have some very talented and hilarious performers in this show so getting to play with them on stage is fun!
BWW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is such a popular show-what will set this production apart from the performances our readers may have seen at other theatres over the years?
Clare: The heart that our Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has is much different from other productions. Our incredible director, Amy McCleary, told us on the first day that Joseph is about finding the things that make you different or weird and celebrating them. We also have a child in the cast who is deaf so there is a lot of ASL used in our production. I believe people in the audience, no matter what age, race, or gender will find something that speaks to them in our story.
BWW: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat contains such timeless themes as jealousy, politics, power-plays, forgiveness, and redemption. In your opinion, what is it about this show that keeps audiences coming back to see it again and again?
Clare: The story of Joseph is amazingly timeless. It is a Bible story, but I think any person, religious or not, can learn from this story. Joseph is so kind throughout the story, and that's what really gets him ahead. Being a good person helped him out, even when he was about to spend his whole life in jail, he was kind to others and eventually was rewarded because of that. I also think the music makes this show timeless. We get a taste from every musical genre-country, French, 50's Elvis. You name it, Andrew Lloyd Webber put it in this show. I think there is a little something for everyone in this musical.
BWW: Another major theme in the show is dreams. Tell us about a time one of your dreams came true.
Clare: Ever since I can remember, I wanted to grow up and live in New York City. A few years after college, I finally made that dream come true, and I now live in New York City. It is a very tough city to live in and, as an actor, it can be especially hard. However, when I have really bad days in New York, I like to look up at the skyscrapers and think how cool it is that I live there. I think of how I felt at 10 years old and how badly I wanted to live there then. Every day, I feel like I'm living my dreams.