The Biblical story of Jacob and his twelve sons in the musicalized version "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is given new life at Theatre-by-the-Sea. 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. It has a talented 45 member cast( 26 are children) led by two excellent leads. The direction by Lennie Watts is responsible for bringing the sthick and pathos needed to sell this show to the audience.The musical direction by David Kreppel blends the vocalists voices with the orchestra to create the heavenly music it needs. Great harmonies!(The colors in the coat song boggle the mind but it went off without a hitch!) The choreography by Kim Galberaith is out of this world with the multitudes of styles needed in each number to make it unique. The intermingling of all these ingredients make this show deserving of the standing ovations it receives every performance.
The two leads compliment each other and help bring out the best in the entire ensemble. Angela Williams as the Narrator interacts with children at the start of the show. Her love for them comes across to the audience as does her vocal prowess in all her numbers. This girl can sing softly as well as belting out a tune. In "Pharoah' s Story " backed up by three Supremes Angela"s voice rings out like Stephanie Mills' in "The Wiz". She is a multi talented performer who sparkles on stage.
Her talented partner in the show is Steven Brennan as Joseph. This young man not only looks like a matinee idol (a young Robert Redford) but sings as well as the three tenors. Steven has a majestic tenor voice and whether he is singing softly in "Any Dream Will Do" reprise or with deep feeling in "Close Every Door" ( the ending soars off the scale sending chills up your spine with its pathos) he keeps the audience enthralled. His interaction with all the other characters is handled very well. Steven is a person to keep your eye on in the future. He has a lot of personality and charisma to go far in show business.
The other eleven brothers also have oodles of talent. Their dancing and singing is outstanding. The dance styles are amazing and varied from song to song. Bob Fosse style is in "Joseph's Dreams", rap in "Poor, Poor, Joseph", Agnes DeMille "Oklahoma" influence in "One More Angel", exercise video style in "Potiphar", 60's dances, the swim in "Go,Go,Go Joseph", The 50"s in "Song of the King" and the conga line in in the calypso number. Standout numbers are "Angel" sung by Randy Bobish (with a singing vulture doing an obligato while he's singing), "Canaan Days" done to perfection by Maurice Chevalier sing alike Christopher Sloan(who doubles as a snobbish Eygptian servant in a zebra skirt) and has a cigarette dangling from his mouth(he ad libs to the audience when he wants them to clap and yells at them when they do it at the wrong time) and "Benjamin Calypso" sung by James Carroll (he somersalts like baby June in GYPSY and says hello everybody my name is Judah invoking a great deal of laughter)
Brent Kuenning does double duty as pharoah and Simeon. Brent's imitation of Elvis is stupendous. He works the crowd talking to the women curling his lip and doing the swagger. What a hoot! The athletic brothers are Sean Mamola, Michael Jablonski and Bill Biondolino doing push-ups wearing leopard print skirts in Eygpt in one scene as well as dancing up a storm in every number they are in. These three guys have wonderful voices, too. Bill also doubled as the butler in jail with Joseph doing a good British accent in it. George Nieves plays Isaacher and he and Lea O'Connell are the dance captains leading this energetic cast to new heights of artistic achievement.(George stepped into a role in the last show so it is good to see him in role of his own) Ed Matias, Daniel Robert Sullivan(also a snooty servant) and John Gomes round out the brothers. Their facial expressions and reactions as well as the other guys is something to be seen!
Tony Wichowski plays Jacob, Potiphar and an Italian baker. He is a man of many talents. Deb Rascoe is a perfect sluttish Mrs. Potiphar who tries to seduce Joseph. She is also in the female singing and dancing ensemble with Lea, Jill Braverman, Allison Mayne and Lindsay Kitt Wiebe. The 26 children are on stage almost the whole time singing and dancing their hearts out. Three of them doubled as the Ishmaelites(Katie Cavaliere and Benjamin E.M.Lovejoy) and the waif (Katie Richman) The waif is in the French scene as red riding hood to be eaten by the brothers but she ends up stealing their bread and sheep.What a funny scene!
Go, Go, Go to see "Joseph" at Theater-by-the-Sea if you don't want to miss a show that will lift your spirits during the summertime. Colorful costumes by David Howard and beautiful scenic design by David Fortuna add the right touches to this splendid show