BWW Review: Go, Go, Go Joseph and Hit The Road With This Smash Hit Production
"Joseph's" a show that stirs memories for a lot of people, many who may have participated in a production (I myself was "Judah"), seen it produced at their local theater or church, or event caught one the Broadway and London versions or film, starring Donny Osmond.
However, stirring positive emotions can inevitably set a mousetrap for new productions that seek to revive the show, but may conflict with the audience's fond memories - the famous, "that's not how I remember it," or "I liked how we did that number better at our community center."
As a result, new productions don't get a fair shake or chance to live on, reinventing or reinterpreting a show you love, and letting you see it through a different light.Luckily, that's not the case with this new version starring Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo (of American Idol fame) currently playing through March 30thCadillac Palace Theater.
Instead, what the creative team did, including director Andy Blankenbuehler, and Music Director Wayne Green, is crafted a production around the traditions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and added modern touches, instead totally reinventing the show.
First off, these touches include casting newlyweds Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young who truly bring to life the score, as well as a series of eye-catching projections that made the stage more three dimensional and modern in its feel, thanks to the work of scenic designer, Beowulf Boritt and projection designer, Daniel Brodie.
However, the hokey and simple fun that we all love in still there, allowing the story of redemption, forgiveness and accepting others for their differences, to shine through.
Additionally, according to Ace and Diana, Andrew Lloyd Webber gave his permission for them to add a duet at the end - the first time the narrator and Joseph make eye contact - reinforcing the relevance of the story and its lessons even today, and ever so subtly alluding to their highly-publicized off-stage marriage.
Diana and Ace prove to be a solid paring, especially Diana's powerhouse vocals, which have become almost an expectation from the "narrator," having been played by even more established Broadway and West End Stars like stars like Maria Friedman, and Laurie Beechman.
Ace too gives a strong performance, adding a new layer to "Close Every Door to Me." Instead of going in as a power ballad, he told me he sees it as a reflection of Joseph's many years in jail, so he starts soft and builds gradually, finally into a full on belt - to respect Joseph's own progression during those years.
Kudos overall to an extremely solid cast even beyond the leads, especially William Thomas Evans and Paul Castree who sing arguably the best version yet of "Those Canaan Days," supported by the other "brothers" in an rousing version of the song choreographed with plates and other utensils (I'll leave it there, not to ruin for viewers).
Finally, compliments must be paid to Jennifer Caprio, who created, among the cast's entire wardrobe, Joseph's dreamcoat, which is featured extensively in the show promos and is truly, "Technicolor."
For more information about "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and future tour stops visit, http://www.josephthemusical.com/. To purchase tickets for the production at the Cadillac Palace visit, www.ticketmaster.com (tickets range from $25-$72)