Joseph the Dreamer: It lifted the heaviness I felt

Its best staging yet, Trumpets reprises its flagship production to reach a new generation—with extended run August 19, 20

From Joseph the Dreamer (Courtesy of Trumpet Productions)

We were in the audience when Joseph the Dreamer was staged at Meralco Theater more than 30 years ago.  My husband Chito and I have been enthusiastic theater-goers but this musical was particularly special to him. There was a deep resonance with the biblical character in the book of Genesis. Though their situations were different, he could identify with the challenges and difficulties, and the overwhelming experience of God’s love.

So it was that every time there was a run of Joseph the Dreamer in Manila, he would buy tickets and bring the family. Besides being entertaining, it was one of the ways he tried to convey life lessons and gospel truths. As he did with every movie we watched at home, pausing the film to ask them what struck them about the story, he would discuss the play after and encourage them to reflect on what they had just watched. The children did not appreciate the movie pauses and the after-show sessions, but dad was dad and their compliance was accompanied by pizza, ice cream and banana splits. Now adults, our sons and daughter acknowledge it helped them become critical thinkers instead of passive viewers, and we have had lively exchanges discussing content and ideas of movies and shows.

I am unable to recall particulars of Freddie Santos essaying the role of Jacob or Audie Gemora’s thespian talents as the main protagonist save that they were enthralling and engaging. We would leave the matinee or the evening performance smiling, happy and inspired, the music running through our minds. The last song syndrome lasted well after curtain call but it was fine.

From Joseph the Dreamer (Courtesy of Trumpet Productions)

When Trumpets announced the staging of Joseph the Dreamer at the Globe Auditorium, Maybank Performing Arts Theater, Chito bought seats online and came home triumphantly declaring that the shows were almost fully booked, but that he was able to secure our tickets. So on a Saturday afternoon, despite full schedules which almost delayed us, we made it a few minutes before JTD was starting.

I was particularly stressed that day and feeling unsettled by events beyond my control.  The feeling of not being able to orchestrate a scenario for better outcomes was bearing down, and I was not completely present to the moment.

However, when the lights dimmed and the stage came alive with updated versions of music and dance enshrined in memory, the tension within loosened up. The internal distraction prevented me from anticipating a modern take conveyed by the configurations of the set design. The music was a fresh take on the familiar score, sounding closer to our children’s playlist. Choreography was crisp, skilled and synchronized. It was a strong opening number and energy sustained through the next two hours.

A historical development became the opportunity for an extended run when a coup d’etat attempt prevented the team from flying back

I read through the playbill and learned that JDT was ignited by a dream of a Cebuana choir master, Gina Sybico. She reached out to Freddie Santos and enlisted him to stage the cantata Joseph, Whatever Happened to the Dreamer? for her church choir. Direk Freddie transformed it into a musical suited for a theater concert. He hand-picked a cast from Manila, that included Audie, Bo Cerrudo, Mari Kaimo, to name a few. They did a few readings, worked out the sequence of their dance movements and rehearsed while Freddie designed the sets and costumes.

 The entire production was put together in less than two weeks, with the ending finalized only 30 minutes before the curtains went up at the St. Theresa’s College auditorium.  It was a remarkable feat and well received by the Cebu audience, who clamored for more than just the scheduled second show.  A historical development became the opportunity for an extended run when a coup d’etat attempt in Manila prevented the team from flying back. The Cebuanos were treated to a third performance.

Joseph the Dreamer became the flagship of Trumpets Production when the theater company was formed in 1991. Over the next 10 years, the show was staged in different venues in Manila, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Bacolod. Gary Valenciano headlined the 10th anniversary, with Audie as his alternate. It was the last time Audie performed as Joseph.

It wasn’t for a curtain call but a call to prayer

This time around, Audie commanded the stage as Jacob, alternating with Gary Valenciano. Gary’s son Paolo directed the show and reimagined it to reach a new generation. I can honestly say that having watched it through the years, it kept getting better and better. This latest version sits in my book as the best yet. Familiar melodies were jazzed up and the dance movements were definitely current. Acting was at par with celebrated shows I have watched abroad. That day, it was Sam Concepcion performing the lead and he was brilliant. Bituin Escalante has always been a memorable presence and that afternoon she palpably breathed motherly affection and strength as Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife.

Throughout the show, it felt like some of the heaviness bearing down on me was being addressed. Joseph in the dungeons, struggling with doubt yet affirming faith in God in a seemingly godless situation was a streak of light through dark clouds. It made the case for Divine intersecting flawed humanity. Joseph brings his to a rousing conclusion: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.” (Genesis 50:20)

The applause after the show was well deserved. When the cast all stood together before the audience, it wasn’t for a curtain call but a call to prayer. Audie led the invocation which conveyed as an invitation to draw near to God. It was a powerful postscript. We walked out of the theater feeling blessed. There was no other way to describe it. More than being a theater production that entertained and inspired, Joseph the Dreamer enlivened a spiritual dimension that made watching the musical an enriching experience.

From Joseph the Dreamer (Courtesy of Trumpet Productions)

Because of popular demand, Trumpets added extra shows on August 19 and August 20. For tickets call 09426040906 Gianne or 09159692416 Ronelia

About author


"Our meaningful lives are the healing stories we need to tell a wounded world." - Anna Isabel C. Sobrepeña. She was recognized as one of Filipina Women Network Most Influential Thought Leader and Innovator in 2019 and received the Asia Leaders Award Editor of the Year in 2018. She was editor in chief of a lifestyle heritage brand publication for 11 years. A writer by passion, she dabbles in fine arts photography, has a taste for Yeats, Shakespeare, Neruda and Bach. She likes cerulean blue, unicorns and people who are comfortable with silence.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for’s Weekly Digest and get the best of, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *