The Biblical story of Jacob and his 12 sons in the musicalized version, "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is the spring production of The Un-Common Theatre Company, a children's theatre company. Written in 1968 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as a 15 minute cantata, this now 90 minute show is high energy from start to finish.The 38 performers ages may range in age from 7 to 18 years old but under the direction of David Letendre and musical direction of David Coccia, they pull of this show in spectacular fashion like seasoned performers twice their age. Earning them a well deserved standing ovation at the close of the show and making it one of the topnotch nights of theater around.
The storyline of the show is told by two narrators who interact with their fellow actors and the 15 children chorus members. David Letendre casts some of the most talented kids in the area in the leading roles. He blocks them very well on the multicolored platform set and keeps the action of the play moving smoothly from one scene to another. David Coccia taught the 38 cast members the songs in this soft rock musical which is entirely sung with no dialogue, and conducts the wonderful sounding 8 member orchestra. The song types in this show consist of country western, rock & roll, a Maurice Chevalier French song, some 60's limbo and conga line music and a Jamacian song. Keith Mottola who has performed on Broadway does the choreography for these talented children in the dance styles to go with the music. The Elvis dance and the conga line are performed excellently as is the close of Act 1 with the different style 60's dances.Kudos for a job well done to David, David and Keith for pulling off this massive endeavor and doing it so well.
The most important part of the show is casting the right people as Joseph and the Narrators. Kevin Hanley, an 18 senior, plays this role perfectly. Not only does he have a fantastic voice but he dances up a storm in the "Go, Go Joseph" number. His vocal prowess is heard throughout the show but it is in "Close Every Door" that the poignancy and power of his rendition gives you chills where his voice soars off the scale. Kevin delivers the more joyful "Any Dream Will Do" at the start of the show and at the closing when he is finally reunited with his family. He will be attending Wagner College on Staten Island next year majoring in Musical Theatre. So look out world and remember this kid's name. The role of the Narrator is usually played by one girl but as David Letendre told me when you have two talented girls for the same role, it is better to use them both and I agree whole heartedly. Tall blonde, Sarah Downey and petite brunette, Molly Allendorf do a beautiful job in this vocally challenging role. Their lovely soprano voices sell all their songs from the Prologue to the end including "Jacob and Sons" to the "Joseph's Coat" (where they mesmerize the audience with listing the enormous colors found in his coat) to "Go, Go Joseph" where they not only lead the song but dance during it, too. Both girls are also seniors in high school and Sarah will be attending NYU's Tisch School of the Arts studying musical theatre and Molly will atttending Dean College as a theatre major. Be sure to look for their names in lights very soon. (The other chorus girls called Narrattes are Ashley Brennan, Sarah Doucette, Jean Swaebe and Katie Travers and they sing and dance beautifully, too while clad in multicolored wigs.)
The other 11 brothers have oodles of talent and they shine in their songs and dances, too. The standout solo numbers include the country western song, "One More Angel" sung by Sam Wartenberg who is only a 6th grader but has a tremendously powerful voice that projects to the back row of the balcony, the French number, "Canaan Days" sung by the constantly in motion and manic Julian Touafek who has a strong voice and is in 7th grade and "Benjamin Calypso" sung by Matthew Timmons, a freshman in high school, who not only sings the number but leads the conga line, too. The other talented brothers include Nicholas Chris, Jake Kelley, Joshua Levine, Timmy Doherty, Aidan Dion, Benjamin Hirsh, Napoleon Soares and Gaston Touafek. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is 7th grader, Garrett Gleason who plays Pharoah. He keeps an Eygptian mask in front of his face until he hops up to sing the Elvis song clad in a white jumpsuit and fake black hair taped to his chest. Garrett's dancing moves are hysterical and his diction is so clear you can understand all of his lyrics perfectly. This is a difficult song to sing but this kid does it with ease and sounds better doing it than some older actors who have played this role. What a hoot he is in this part. The brothers father, Jacob and Potiphar is played by Matt Whitman and in the latter scene Kevin as Joseph and Ashley Brennan as Mrs. Potiphar do an excellent honkytonk dance while in the dream scene Joseph tells the Butler and the Baker played by Katie Travers and Chris Duffy their fate. Singing in a lot of the show are the other chorus members, Brianne Costa, Lisa Evans, Marissa Gabrilowitz, Rebecca Levenson, Elyse Lovejoy and Meg Lowey while the children's chorus members are Katie Armstrong, Sean Doherty, Sara Briana Goldman, Jessica Greene, Julia Habbe, Adam Kantor, Lindsay Kenney, Emily Levine, Alissa Melton, Katie Miller, Jamie Mortensen, Jackie Reilly, Jenna Resnick, Melanie Roth and Izabelle Tully. So for a dynamite children's presentation of "Joseph", be sure to catch this show at the Orpheum. It boasts Broadway like standards including the numerous costumes designed by Lisa Surrette especially the gorgeous Joseph coat which is breathtaking.