Thursday, June 15, 2006 | “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is in town and it’s a carnival ride of fun for the whole family. Or maybe “magic-carpet ride” would be more fitting.
Everything visual about the show is breathtaking. This long-running audience favorite is also full of colorful, sing-a-long worthy numbers. Because the show’s songs run the gamut from rock and pop to R&B to country and more, the audience never gets settled into one mode. And that’s a good thing. There’s a different tune in a totally different style around every corner, a charismatic performer for each number.
Broadway alum Patrick Cassidy stars as Joseph and he’s a real treat to watch. Fully focused, he doesn’t stop aiming to please for one moment during the show. He sings crystal clear with power and personality and he commands the spotlight. Poised and physical, he carries the acting chops for the role to boot.
The story, based on the biblical tale of Jacob’s son Joseph and set in Israel and Egypt, centers on Joseph and his 11 brothers. Jacob clearly favors Joseph of all his sons, and bestows on him a beautiful, technicolor, well, dreamcoat. The brothers become jealous and betray Joseph by selling him to slave-traders. But all is not lost for Joseph, who possesses a gift for prophetic dreams and begins to use that gift to overcome his hardship.
Because “Joseph” was written as a school-children’s cantata by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, there remains a children’s choir throughout the performance. The “Dreamcoat Choir” in performances in San Diego is comprised of 16 local performers ranging in age from eight to 13 who were hand-selected by the touring company performing “Joseph.” The children have wonderful vocal and acting abilities. They maintain their patience on their perches on the side of the stage, waiting for cues to interact chorally and with the narrator.
Amy Adams is the role of the narrator, managing the rapid-fire delivery many of her songs require with ease. She has an angelic voice, very sweet and she moves the story along capably, but she is often difficult to understand. Since the storyteller needs to be as clear as possible, it makes it frustrating for the audience.
The musical takes the viewers on a wonderfully witty romp. The 11 brothers are played to perfection by ensemble with singing, dancing and comedic talents. With numbers ranging from the zany “Potiphar” in Egypt to the brother’s woeful song of regret “Those Canaan Days,” to the well-known “Any Dream Will Do,” the audience was alternately toe-tapping and laughing hilariously. The Elvis-like Pharaoh (Todd Dubail) had everyone in my row cracking up, the Apache Dancer in the “Canaan Days” number (Kelly Stensland) is wicked-cool and mesmerizing to watch. Other standouts include brothers Benjamin (Derek Ferguson) and Judah (Randy Aaron) and the patriarch Jacob (Nicholas F. Saverine).
Adding sparkle to the sounds, the accompanying sets are innovative and quick-changing throughout the performance. Palms grow from pillars, lights sparkle from pyramids. It’s hard to explain how a biblical story manages to throw in a cowboy-and-girl stampede dance, a sultry French bistro song, flamboyant butlers and Elvis, so why try? Take the family and enjoy the ride.