BWW Interview: Marc Ciemiewicz, JOSEPH's Potiphar and Jacob

BWW Interview: Marc Ciemiewicz, JOSEPH's Potiphar and JacobBroadwayWorld spoke with Marc Ciemiewicz about color, character and special effects in the national tour of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Marc plays both Jacob and Potiphar in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which uses everything from Elvis-style to calypso and western in its telling of Joseph's rise to power in Bible-times Egypt. Read the full interview below, then visit galloarts.org to reserve seats for the tour's one-weekend only stop in Modesto, Ca.

Let's start with the easy question. What's your favorite color?

Purple! And I actually get to wear it in the show!

The royal color! And now for the hard question: Can you name all the colors on Joseph's technicolored coat?

I sure can! Because it was red, yellow, green, brown, scarlet, black, ocher, peach, ruby, olive, violet, fawn, lilac, gold, chocolate, mauve, cream, crimson, silver, rose, azure, lemon, russet, grey, purple, white, green, yellow and blue!

I had the pleasure of seeing the tour when it came through Sacramento with Ace and Diana and was blown away by the production. It's not your typical Joseph. In fact, I'd say the entire production qualifies as technicolored. Tell me about some of the more spectacular elements of the show.

First and foremost, the projection work is phenomenal. This is my fifth production of Joseph, and so many times it's a pretty stagnant set, but because of our projection work in the show, it truly transports you to so many different places. That and the fact that three of our artistic staff were nominated for Tony Awards this morning - if that tells you anything about what the show is like, that's pretty good. Our director choreographer, our scenic designer and our lighting designer were all nominated. You can't really get any better than that.

The choreography is especially amazing. Some of it even takes a page right of the Tavern scene in "Beauty and the Beast" with clanking silverware.

I love that. And the new arrangements that have been done with this "Canaan Days," it truly is the show stopping number of the show. The audience goes berserk, and rightfully so, because it is so beautifully done, and so funny that the audience can't help but go crazy.

Then you have the colorful costumes to match the wonderful backgrounds. Joseph has a sort of "Wicked" moment where his coat becomes larger than life and he rises up. These creative elements sort of "defy" description.

Right. When I was first offered the show, I was looking at production photos from Ace and Diana, and I saw that picture of him standing on the steps with the coat, and I was like, "That is absolutely glorious." It's fun, because at that moment we can actually see the audience, and seeing their reactions to it is one of the best parts of the show for me.

BWW Interview: Marc Ciemiewicz, JOSEPH's Potiphar and JacobDo you have a favorite moment in the show?

Besides "Canaan Days," I have to say it's "Potiphar," just because I get to play him. But I love what I was given and what I've been allowed to do with Potiphar, in the sense that I've played Potiphar before, and this is very different from what I did before. It's just one of those moments where I feel like the audience is finally taken away from the familiarity of Joseph and the brothers, and now we're somewhere different.

Have you always played the same role in your five previous productions?

I've never played Joseph, and I've never done the Judah track, so I've never sung the calypso, but otherwise I have sung "Canaan Days," I have sung "One More Angel in Heaven." I have played Potiphar before, but I've never played Jacob.

How do you enjoy playing such opposite characters?

It's an absolute blast. From one who is a 150-year-old man who essentially is the founder of Israel to an egotistical, money-grubbing fanatical captain of an army.

One is rich in wealth and possessions and the other rich in family and everyday blessings. The contrast is sort of in the background, but important. Tell me about these characters and how you and the audience may relate to them.

Jacob has the love of the family and the blessing of God, and has created his own world and his own nation in one way. Potiphar, on the other hand, is the lord and master of his own domain, but it's a small one, and he's very much about the necessity of possession, whether it be money or people. I think that's one of the beautiful things I get to do, is I get to back and forth between these two characters and allow them to influence the audience in two different ways. Many times I have had people come up to me after the show or later on and say, "Well those are two different people." Yes, but I play both. "Well, no. You couldn't have." I do.

There's a lot to relate to in the musical, an ongoing theme of "any dream will do." It even starts with a sort of modern twist to pull you in and make Joseph's story part of your own dream. How does that play out? What should audiences take away from the show?

The first comes out of the prologue, which is set in very modern day, modern dress, and brings the audience into the show in the sense that we see this character as a child and growing up through high school and into college and into the business world. And what it does is I think it helps the audience associate with the character a little bit more. And then at the end of the show we have a reprise of the song that somewhat brings the show full circle so that it gets reiterated that everybody is a dreamer and that our dreams do count for something. I think that's one of the beautiful messages of the show is that everybody dreams, and it all depends on what you do with those dreams, whether you take them and use them to help your personal growth or whether you take them and just dismiss them. As children, we dream, and we're allowed to dream, but then as we grow older we're told it's just a dream. But I think everybody needs the dreams they have, and I think that they allow them to not only go into a different place and time, but also become a stronger person.

It looks like the tour is coming to an end, with only two cities left after Modesto.

We have just a few cities left and then later in July, we'll be headed to Tokyo for a couple weeks. Most of us have not done work overseas like that, so we're all very excited.

Well I can't wait to see the show again before it heads out. It's just one of those shows you want to see over and over again.

It's one of those shows that's just fun. Plain and simple, it's a fun show. There's something for everybody in it. If you don't like musical theatre, you might like one of the songs, because every song is a different genre or type of song.

Catch "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" May 7-8 at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Ticket and information at galloarts.org.

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