GO, GO, GO, JOSEPH! - Review

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide


Guest Review by Jamie McGonnigal

"Go, Go, Go, Joseph!"

So many shows on Broadway today are revivals. We often hear complaints about what many people call "historical theater." This is a term often used for revivng a show. Doing a work for the same exact reasons it was done the first time. In many cases we find timely messages which could possibly carry a show through a number of decades, or even centuries. One of these new revivals is Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.
JOSEPH was one of Lloyd Webber's first collaborations with lyricist, Tim Rice, with whom he wrote blockbusters such as JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and EVITA. This show was actually written for children to perform. Never suspecting it would gain the following it did, a professional production of the show openedon Broadway in the late 70's. The show did admirably there, and was revived in 1992 all over the world. The show had already combined several styles of music, from country-western to R & B. But, with this revival the music is expanded upon even more, incorporating rap, techno and popular styles.
The draw to this new production has been the celebrity names being sold with the show. It opened on Broadway with the daytime drama star, Michael Damian. When it opens in Boston in March, the star of the show will be Donny Osmond. And at the Providence Performing Arts Center, the production features Sam Harris in the title role.
One thing I would like to state in my background of the show is that I've wanted to see it since I was twelve. It was one of the first Cast Recordings I ever owned. So, needless to say, my expectations were very high. This production fulfilled and went leagues beyond every expectation that has been stewing in my brain for the past nine years.
The show began with scores of young children giggling as they skipped down the aisles of the theatre. As they were greeted onstage by the Narrator (Kristine Fraelich). Her full, glorious voice led the way as a guide to the cast, setting standards which would be met throughout the performance. After the opening sequence, these children (from Barrington Middle School and St. Mary Academy Bay View) framed the stage, which consisted of an enormous box where all the action took place.
Sam Harris's "Joseph" was very childlike and often related better with the children of the choir, better than his brothers. This gave the feel of the show a very light-hearted-storytelling one, which worked very well. Harris truly made the character his own, especially in the music. His soaring tenor voice had a great "pop" sound to it, which fit in perfectly with the context and style of this revival.
The ensemble as a whole worked amazingly well together, with particular note to the brothers. Anthony Van Laast's choreography set the stage on fire with the updated score. Matt Zarley and Amy Splitt as Apache Dancers brought a life to some of the songs which I could never have imagined, listening to the album. Some other performances of note are Jeffrey Scott Watkins as the Pharaoh, Bernard Dotson as the Baker/Issachar, Rufus Bonds Jr. as Judah and Glenn Sneed as The Butler.
If you have the opportunity to see this production in Providence, by all means, give it a shot. If you can't make it on this short notice, I was informed that several of these cast members will be appearing in the Boston production opening in March.-Jamie McGonnigal

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide