Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

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entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony and Uncommon Theatre's winter show is "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". The first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the show tells the story of a man named Joseph, a special boy with the ability to interpret dreams, who is given a rainbow-colored coat as a gift from his adoring father. After Joseph tells his brothers of a dream he's had of their subordinance to him, they abduct him, destroy his cherished coat, and toss him into a pit to die. But a change of heart leads them to sell him into slavery instead. They return to their father with a bloodied coat and a horrible tale of poor Joseph's end, while Joseph is meanwhile carted off with an Egyptian property owner. Years later, Joseph uses his dream-reading abilities to impress Pharaoh, who immediately appoints him Minister of Agriculture. After Joseph finds that his brothers have come to Egypt to beg for employment after a famine strikes, he decides to stage a little surprise for his would-be murderers before he allows everyone to live happily ever after. With music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is a worldwide phenomenon that got its start as a 15-minute production in March 1968. Since then, Joseph's family-friendly storylines, universal themes and catchy music have been performed across the globe, by both professional and student theatres. Under the direction and choreography of Michael Hammond and musical direction of Esther Zabinski, they supply the necessary ingredients to make this the must see show of the autumn season and will bring joie-de-vivre back into your lives.

This two hour show is high energy from start to finish. Director/choreographer Michael Hammond takes this story and creates many fantastic picture postcard moments during it. He combines moments of shtick and pathos and also creates fantastic dance numbers including a hoe-down, square dance, the tango, the limbo, the swim and 50's style rock and roll that Michael's cast executes them perfectly. Since this soft rock musical is entirely sung, Esther not only conducts a five piece orchestra and plays lead keyboards, but taught the cast the intricate harmonies of the variety of numbers in it.They are aided in their task by Michael Duarte who designed the set while Michael Teixeiria stage manages this huge cast and also designed the lighting. The numerous props are handled by Gail Gilman while the multitude of colorful costumes are by Daniel Kozar while Ed DiMarzio runs the sound.

The important part of this show are the leading characters which are Joseph and the Narrators. Brendan Duquette is Joseph. He is tall, dark and handsome and is only a junior in high school. Brendan has a fabulous tenor voice whether he is singing upbeat in "Any Dream Will Do" at the start of the show or with deep feeling in "Close Every Door" where his voice soars off the charts sending chills up your spine with its poignancy and again in "Any Dream Will Do" as he sings it slowly to Jacob near the end of the show which leaves the audience in tears. Brendan stops the show with his high tenor range in his numbers and duets with Paula. His interactions with his brothers and all the other characters are excellently handled as well as his warm touching relationship with Jacob. Brendan gives a tour-de-force performance in this role. The storyline of this show is told by 3 Narrators and Michael cast Paula Marcowicz as the main narrator, Meredith Dowd, a high school senior and Erin Fitzgerald, a fifth grader as the Narrator's friends. They weave their way in and out of each of the numbers with the rest of the cast. Their voices soar in all their numbers including the Prologue, "Jacob and Sons","Joseph's Coat" "Poor Poor Joseph", "A Pharaoh's Story" and "Go Go Joseph". They not only belt their numbers but sing sweetly on their softer ones and also do a tremendous job in all the dance numbers, too. Paula has funny moments when she is eating grapes during the famine scene and enters sipping a pina colada which she shares with Joseph during the Calypso song. She has a magnificent soprano range which soars off the charts while the younger girls have topnotch voices, too.

The other 11 brothers have oodles of talent and also shine in their singing and dancing prowess.The standout numbers include the country western song "One More Angel in Heaven" sung slowly at first by Jacob and then with wild abandon by Sean Leehan and Andrew Purdy in their lilting voices, while the cast does a hoe down to it, two other powerful singers are Michael Gebrayel who I last reviewed in "Biloxi Blues" and Ben Reingold who sing the French type song "Those Canaan Days", they are hilarious in this number (the brothers and their wives do an awesome tango during this song) and another voice that soars off the charts is Bryan Heffernan who sings "Benjamin Calypso" while dancing up a storm with the other cast members. The other talented brothers are played by Joe Ellis, Alex Fullerton, Alec Guerrinni, Rian Thomas, Jackie Gately and Ethan Gekow, who is cute as a button as the youngest brother, Benjamin. Michael Dowd is Jacob and Pharaoh. He is touching as Jacob with his relationship to Joseph and hilarious as the Pharaoh in his song and dance number. Michael struts his stuff like Elvis Presley and the girls faint at the sight of him. He is a hoot and sounds like Elvis in his line delivery, too. Potiphar is well played by Bill Dowd and his seductive wife is played by Kelly Jo McCann where she seduces Joseph and gets him thrown in prison while the butler and baker are played by Melissa Fine and Cara DiPietro. So go go go to see "Joseph" at the Orpheum Theatre to lift your spirits during this winter season in MA.

"Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (3 - 12 December)
@ Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide