Here's a real review. 7:27 PM Review: Ogunquit Playhouse's 'Joseph' a crowd-pleaser By STEVE FEENEY Styles often change, but one particular coat has a record of staying fashionable, even in the warmer months. The outerwear in question here is an important prop in an early work by the legendary team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" emerged on the world's stages in the wake of the creative duo's later success with "Jesus Christ Superstar." Expanded and revised along the way, "Joseph" has become a favorite for theater companies and theatergoers at every level. Over the years, pop idols like David Cassidy and Donny Osmond have signed on to the cast to bring the show home to mass audiences as well as add another stage appearance to their careers. Now, the Ogunquit Playhouse has landed former "American Idol" sensation Clay Aiken, who has some Broadway experience, to add star power for its production of the show. Aiken does fine by his title role, but the show owes its strength equally to a sterling cast that gets to loosen up and fly high in some of the very entertaining set pieces and ensemble numbers. All in all, this "Dreamcoat" fits well without need of major alterations. It's a show that anyone with an ear and an eye for top-quality song and dance will enjoy. Aiken generally adds a low-key demeanor to his role as the biblical dreamer who believes he is destined for greatness. At Sunday's matinee, his big numbers were delivered in a singing voice with range enough to connect on both those somber moments ("Close Every Door") and the inspiring ones ("Any Dream Will Do"). Even when he was being tough ("Who's the Thief?"), he stayed within his character's gentle strength to get at the show's fundamental message of perseverance and forgiveness. Broadway powerhouse Keala Settle gained applause for several songs sung in the role of the story's Narrator. Easily reaching the back of the hall and perhaps all the way to downtown Ogunquit with her soaring voice, she was a dynamic presence throughout. Numbers that mixed various genres and eras of music and dance were what will likely be most memorable about this production. An early "Hoedown" piece was a hoot, with the men playing Joseph's wayward brothers singing and dancing up a strorm. Later, an appearance from the Pharoah (Matthew Ragas) evolved into an Elvis impersonation that had everyone cracking up. Craig Laurie and Nicholas Ward stood out in hilarious numbers inspired, respectively, by French balladry and Carribean calypso. These and other numbers were ensemble as well as individual gems for which director and choreographer Jayme McDaniel deserves much credit. The only negative might be an unnecessary "Megamix" tacked on at the end that briefly reprises most of the show's big numbers as if the next stop was Las Vegas. Notwithstanding this quibble, if you've never seen this show or have only seen community or high school productions in the past, it is well worth it to make a trip down to Ogunquit to see how well the pros do it.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Or the Bible goes Disco) A Review by Jason Pendergast As summer in Ogunquit hits high season, so does the camp factor at the Playhouse. I would have thought cornball productions like “The Rat Pack” or “Young Frankenstein” would have won the title. Little did I know that the winner (so far) is a play based on--- a Bible story! “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” opens this week and based on the enthusiasm I saw on Thursday nights, fans of this camp classic (and its American Idol star, Clay Aiken) are ecstatic. Now, it is has been many years since this Gayogunquit reviewer has been to Sunday School so my memory of the tale of Joseph is a bit hazy. Set many, many years before the birth of Christ, this play (narrated by vocal talents of Keala Settle) tells the story of Jacob, a powerful (and apparently polygamous) leader of Israel, who has (at least) 12 sons. One of them, the studious, sensitive Joseph (Clay Aiken) is his obvious favorite. This does not sit well with the other 11 and when daddy Jacob gives his #1 son a rather flamboyant, gay pride looking trench coat, they plot a “Cain and Able” on him. Stripped of his beloved coat and sent off as a slave, Joseph uses his psychic (and vocal) abilities to impress person after person he comes in contact with. His talents are soon noticed by businessmen and royalty alike, and Joseph becomes a high advisor to the Pharaoh after he is able to decipher his highness’s dreams. (This rock and roll Elvis number is one of the highlights of the show- Matthew Ragas really nails his Vegas-style Presley!) Thanks to Joseph, Egypt is saved from famine and he is given a royal title….just in time for his brothers to come begging for help... As said before, this take on a Bible story can’t be taken seriously (even animal lovers will laugh aloud during the “death” of the goat/sheep prop!). The cast is clearly enjoying themselves. Aiken plays the role as a subdued, sensitive soul and comes across as very likable. The “evil” brothers add enough goof ball charm to want us to see them be acquitted of their crimes. (Nicholas Ward had the audience whipped up into a frenzy with his Benjamin Calypso number.) The song and dance numbers also give the show a real feel-good charm that helps us forget the serious nature of the source material. Also, the costumes look like something Elton John would have designed after an all night LSD bender- in other words, the laughs are fast and furious. Think what would have happened if ABBA and Charlton Heston’s Moses had a love child and that should sum up this light, feel good romp!
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