by Emily Minton
Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County and Bethesda United Methodist Church (BUMC) are coming together musically on Sunday, June 2 for two joint productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Although the two congregations, whose buildings stand across the five lanes of Old Georgetown Road from each other, have held a joint Thanksgiving service for more than 60 years, this is the first time the two have joined forces on a theatrical project.
Leading the cast of 40 that’s made up of both Beth El and BUMC members are Matt Klein, Beth El’s chazzan, and David Fanning, BUMC’s director of music. Fanning, who has been with BUMC for the past 11 years and directs the church’s annual musical production, approached Klein late last year about collaborating on a project other than the Thanksgiving service.
“We started brainstorming ideas that our two congregations could do together and thought why not do a musical,” said Fanning.
The two selected Joseph because of its “shared biblical story,” explained Klein, who plays the role of technicolor dream coat-wearing Joseph. With rehearsals scheduled for about 15 hours a week, both Klein and Fanning expressed their joy at seeing their congregants come together and form relationships with one another.
“For me, this whole process really stands for the message that people who sing together create a bond,” said Klein. “I think that the world that we live in can be very polarized on religious and political issues, and just the act of making music together is really redemptive for bringing groups of different backgrounds together. It’s really been a blast to do.”
Fanning echoed Klein’s joy at the two congregation’s coming together, adding that although he will be leaving BUMC after the production to finish his doctorate, he hopes the joint musical tradition will continue for years to come.
“I’m really looking forward to the chance of having a tangible representation of how we as human beings and faithful worshippers have more in common, than differences. It’s really been a joy getting to know everyone and I hope that it only continues,” he said.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be onstage on Sunday, June 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Bethesda United Methodist Church. Admission is free with donations appreciated and all proceeds going towards Bethesda Cares. For more information visit either www.washmorefeet.org or www.bethelmc.org.