Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber, Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by John R. Leffert
Review by Rachel White
Entire contents are copyright © 2013 Rachel White. All rights reserved.
This was my first time seeing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, though I’ve heard the music many times on countless Andrew Lloyd Webbers CDs and recognized most of the songs. If you’re not familiar, it’s a comical opera based on the biblical story of Joseph and his "coat of many colors." It satirizes the story in many ways but is a family-friendly musical. CenterStage’s current production plays up the comical aspect of the musical, and nothing stays too serious for too long.
The show opens with a chorus of children on stage dressed in bright pastel T-shirts, the children of Israel. Immediately, you know this isn’t going to be a realistic retelling of the story. As they sing, Joseph solemnly enters the crowd singing "Any Dream Will Do," the theme song of the piece and one of the more earnest songs of the play. He stops to gently touch a child’s face or bestow a benevolent look. It’s a little schmaltzy, but called for.
As the story goes, Joseph is a dreamer, literally, and the favorite son of his father. He is doing quite well until his dad gives him that coat of many colors – and his life changes. His jealous brothers sell him into slavery, and all those dramatic biblical-sized problems descend upon him.
Robbie Lewis as Joseph is a calm and confident performer with a solid voice. He might not be a knock out exactly, but he does the job. And there is enough tenderness in him to get the songs across, particularly in numbers like "Close Every Door," which requires a certain haunted quality.
Other notable performers include Tyler Johnson-Campin, whose "Benjamin Calypso" was absolutely infectious. I had to Google the lyrics because I couldn’t get them out of my head. This kid had a ton of energy and really stood out among the ensemble members.
Brian Bowles was also good as the Pharaoh, an Elvis-like celebrity who makes women faint with a mere glance. My big problem with this scene (and with a few of the songs) was that some of the lyrics were hard to understand. For an opera, that’s really important, because information gets missed. It took me a while to figure out what the pharaoh was talking about. Part of this may have been due to the accent. Bowles' Elvis impersonation, however, was pretty good and certainly committed.
The costumes are modern, with an ancient Egyptian twist, which fits in well with the style of the play. The Pharaoh’s headdress is Egyptian-like but sequined in the vein of an Elvis impersonator. Overall, the effect of the costumes was to unite the players and support the dreamlike world of the play.
There is, of course, a great deal of smiling and dancing in this show. The dancing, though not complexly choreographed, was well executed by the ensemble, all of whom were deeply enthusiastic.
This production is absolutely well done with a talented group of performers who, even if they don’t blow you out of the water, will make you crack a smile. Oh, and the kids were very sweet and expressive and added a great deal of life to the work.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
February 21-March 3
February 21-March 3
The Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchman’s Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40205