BWW Review: JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Just Off Broadway Shines
Few musicals make you smile, clap and sing along in your seat like JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Through the years, I've seen many takes on this Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. As a fan of it, I'm here to tell you that the Just Off Broadway's production of JOSEPH - directed by Tammy Oppel - may be one of my very favorites. I've seen companies put all sorts of spin on the story. It's a great showcase for creativity, and I thought I'd seen them all. But JOB's spin is perfectly suited for the story and the show.
Their production begins with children and adults attending Sunday School, where they'll be learning of Joseph and his brothers. Between the rainbow decorations, and all the little flourishes one would see in a classroom, the set design by Theresa Bonvegna is fantastic. What I enjoyed most, was that the Sunday School theme carried on throughout the entire show. When the actors started becoming the characters, they were choosing their costumes and props from the classroom around them. Jacob had a head piece made from a baby blanket, and a staff made from an umbrella. Joseph's multicolored coat was a blanket, and his shackles were paper chains. This creativity elevated the already Great Performances of this very talented cast.
Led by Elton Knupp as the narrator, and Josh Schoff as Joseph, this cast brought a very fun musical to life in brand new ways. Ms. Knupp has a beautiful voice, and was a wonderful storyteller. Mr. Schoff makes for a very talented Joseph. His voice works well for these songs. Building on the theme of the Sunday School class, it was fun to see both interact with the company. Ms. Knupp brought real warmth and kindness to her added role of "teacher." Speaking of this company, it's hard for me to pull out specific highlights in a group of performers that is so very talented.
As a group they were spectacular, and given the chance to go solo, they were just as spectacular. I must also highlight the children that are a part of this wining ensemble. Often, when kids are added to a show, they aren't given much to do. In this production however, they're equal parts of the group and are given their own chances to shine. It's nice to see the cast interact with these kids. You can see the kids are having fun with the adults, and the adults are having an equally wonderful time.
Everything about this production serves to elevate this fun tale, but I think what really seals the deal for me, is this talented ensemble of actors, and their interactions with each other and the material. JOSEPH is sometimes seen as campy and not high-entertainment. But as I mentioned, it's also incredibly fun. That enjoyment and desire to have fun on stage seems to be shared by this cast of characters. And the fun they're having extends out into the audience.
If pushed, the only tiny complaint I have after seeing JOB's production, is the sound quality. I know many of these songs by heart, so it isn't a huge issue for me. But at some points, it is hard to hear some of the lines. Though, this is no reflection on the actors or the orchestra (which is live by the way, and really fantastic), just the space itself. Given a few tweaks, I'm sure audiences will be hearing every one of Andrew Lloyd Weber's delightful lines soon enough.
The last few minutes of every JOSEPH production culminates with a "mega-mix" of almost every song the audience has heard over the last 2 hours. It's fun, crazy, and all together joyful. It always leaves the audience with a smile on their face, and in this production, it is no different. After nailing the last few hours, this cast literally danced in the aisles to audience applause - and just a little singing along, though that could have just been me.
If you're looking for a great piece of theatre, that will put a smile on your face, and song in your heart, JOB's production is a wonderful choice.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT plays weekends at Just Off Broadway (4301 Raspe Ave. | Baltimore, MD | 21206) through November 3, 2019.