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A Quick Switcheroo!

Hopefully this doesn’t cause too many problems, but we’re going to switch back to Caring Bridge temporarily. The updates come out quite a bit faster (I don’t usually get my updates til the following day on this website), and with Josh’s current condition it is nice to know people are getting the info/prayer request/etc. soon after its put out. So, if you click on the link above that says CaringBridge Posts, you will be directed there, and if you’re not already signed up, create a quick account and you can go right to his page. Thanks everyone, and when we are ready to switch back we will let you know!

December 16, 2014 - 3:55 PM

Amber Hunt - I’m a journalist who happened to be looking at my archived stories from long ago in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. I stumbled upon this lede, and it triggered a memory of being floored by Joshua Casteel a show I reviewed: “‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ is Joshua Casteel’s debut production at Theatre Cedar Rapids, and TCR will be lucky to have him back.”

I Googled to see how his life played out, and, while I’m not surprised to learn he made a lasting impression before his departure, I’m sorry to learn of his passing. The story, in its entirety, is posted below, just in case you’re feeling nostalgic.

Best to his friends and family. I’ve known loss, and I send my sympathies.

TCR’s ‘Joseph’ is fun and full of energy
Amber Hunt Gazette staff writer
Published: July 18, 1999

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is Joshua Casteel’s debut production at Theatre Cedar Rapids, and TCR will be lucky to have him back. The 19-year-old, cast as the musical’s title character, received a well-deserved standing ovation at curtain call. His sensitive yet powerful solo, “Close Every Door,” is alone worth the $17 to see this production, which runs through Aug. 1.
Luckily, however, Casteel’s not the only draw.
When done well, a musical like “Joseph” is the perfect night at the theater for those who choose not to go often. It’s short – barely more than two hours – and full of energy.
Well, TCR has done it well.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph” tells the biblical story of Joseph and his 11 brothers. The brothers grow jealous because Joseph is their father’s favorite son, so they sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father he was killed. Years pass, however, and Joseph fulfills premonitions of greatness by becoming the Pharoah’s right-hand man before forgiving his brothers.
The play features several incredible solos, including “One More Angel in Heaven,” sung beautifully with a country-and-western flair by Zach Parker. There also are the hilarious “Those Canaan Days,” performed by Danny Johnson, and “Benjamin Calypso,” by Jason Coyne.
Christy DeMeulenaere is wonderful as the Narrator, who ties together the scenes through song. DeMeulenaere has an incredibly strong voice, but her acting doesn’t stop when she’s out of the spotlight. Her facial expressions throughout the show help keep the story rolling.
Everyone did a great job, but it’s Casteel who makes your jaw drop. His four years of show choir at Washington High School definitely serve him well here, as his voice shifts deftly from trembling and defeated to triumphant and powerful.
The musical also features 36 children, to whom the Narrator tells the story of Joseph. A couple of the kids have learned the fine art of over-acting at an early age.
There were a few other minor glitches as well, many of which can be attributed to opening night problems. Faltering microphones detracted from a couple of solos, while the Elvis Presley-drawl of The Pharoah, played by Richard Akers, is funny but sometimes too thick to understand the words.
Still, this production is a treat. Steve Smith’s lighting adds great depth, and the gaudy, Las Vegas-styled costumes are great eye candy.
It’s fun, energetic and incredibly sung. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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