BWW Reviews: Media Theatre's JOSEPH Is Great Family Fun!
What most people know about Joseph is that is it a sugary sweet adaptation of the "Coat of Many Colors" story from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Oddly enough this family friendly popular staged show is historically accurate from a Biblical sense. What many may not know is that Joseph was the first Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly in 1970 despite being written several years prior along with several recordings and transformations of the work.
The Media Theater brings a fresh new take to one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's earliest musicals. The show itself is framed within an imagination-fueled journey from modern times to the Biblical through the children's chorus. Taking the children on this journey is the aptly named "Narrator" (Lauren Cupples). Cupples vocals are a bit fast and difficult to understand at times, but otherwise she tackles this brisk commentary aptly. Throughout the show, the children play a major part in the events of the story which serves as a pleasant attraction to the action packed story.
Following in the footsteps of Clay Aiken, Patrick Cassidy, Broadway's Sam Harris and Donny Osmond, who wore the colorful coat in the film/video version in 1999 are all big shoes to fill. Kyle Lowder heats up the stage with his good looks and ever present bare-chested totally ripped self! The big question; can he sing? Is he a good stage performer? Heck YES he is! Lowder plays the prophetic misunderstood, favorite son with a keen sense of sincerity making him more charming than arrogant. Of course his eleven brothers are not impressed or buying into his dreams of the future which sparks enough hostility that they sell him into slavery, shred his coat and pull the wool over their father Jacob's eyes by telling him he's be eaten by an animal. Ahh...sibling rivalry.
Director Jesse Cline takes full advantage of his experience and resourcefulness by adding background projections as well as live streaming video of the characters on stage turning this light hearted theactrical piece into a party-like atmosphere to keep the audience from taking the story too seriously.
The brothers have the lion's share of the laughs and though they for all intents and purposes act like brats they are given Webber and Rice's best musical selections that include several genre-specific songs from the world of country, rap, and Caribbean which they playfully enjoy. Particularly pleasing, and one of the best songs in general, is their rendition of the French inspired "Those Cannan Days". Other favorites include solo numbers "Close Every Door" and "Any Dream Will Do" performed with great feeling and ability by Lowder. "Song of the King" and " Benjamin Calypso" are both entertaining group numbers.
The talented Dann Dunn, choreographer and brother (Levi) brings an enormous amount of fast stepping action to this young capable company. P. Brendan Mulvey plays duel roles as Jacob and Potiphar as does Colin McAdoo who plays a brother (Isaachar) and Pharaoh. McAdoo's Pharaoh is outstanding.
Potiphar's sexy wife is played by the teasing Rachel Beiswenger who does her best to woo poor Joseph into a most compromising position, which lands him in jail on trumped up charges. Thankfully for him, he's a prophet of sorts and he uses the ability to gain favorite from the Pharaoh. And eventually the whole story circles back around into the happiest of happy endings and a highly unlikely reconciling with his brothers.
This show gets away with a playful mix of the modern world pulling in sunglasses and replacing the chariot with a more updated 2 wheeled ride. The entire cast including Lowder (yes he can also dance), get to strut their stuff in the up-tempo Mega Mix finale. The children are delightful as they cheer on the action and a fun time is had by all.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at the Media Theater, Media PA. through Jan. 5th. For tickets and information visit www.mediatheatre.org or call 610.891.0100