A New Take on an Old Tale

By: Sep. 08, 2021

Review: JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Allenberry Playhouse JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT was Andrew Lloyd Webber's and Tim Rice's first foray into Biblical themes. Starting with the well known Old Testament tale of a young boy, jealous siblings, and an astonishing journey provoked by a doting father's excessive gift, the production featured song stylings and production numbers spoofing everything from country to calypso to French chanteuse.

Set in the Biblical Canaan and in ancient Egypt, yet exploring more modern music and costumes (ancient Pharaohs rarely decked themselves out in Las Vegas casino loungewear), the show has always asked its audiences to be amused by the visual juxtaposition. However, director Dustin LeBlanc manages to update the setting without sacrifice to plot or to visual harmonies (this author recalls choking at a Mikado set in a 1920s English seaside hotel). It's true that a desert may be a deserted wasteland - but so is an urban area with vacant lots and empty buildings. Jacob and sons, desert farmers, are still in a wasteland on the borderline of reclamation... until that famine arrives...

The story is spun by a narrator - in this production, Lindsey Bretz-Morgan, whose voice, if such a thing is possible, sounds better than ever. Brett-Morgan has sung some of the best women's parts in theatre, including Eva Peron and Sally Bowles, but her Narrator may just be better than either. She turns the story over to Joseph, here played by Shawn Mathews, who triple-threats his way through singing, dancing, and guitar. This Joseph is a force to be reckoned with - no wonder his siblings are threatened. Terry Sheldon brings a fine turn as Jacob, a worn, tired father of a dozen quarreling siblings in a harsh land.

It's always the little things - LeBlanc chose to keep the cast as small as possible (in this case that's still large, making impossible to name all, alas), with the other performers in multiple roles. Vocal director Mary Butler George has brought out remarkable harmonies in the production numbers, particularly in "One More Angel in Heaven" and in a particularly nicely staged "Those Canaan Days" that indeed recalled a Parisian coffee house filled with espresso and cigarettes, with a nod to Jacques Brel. Nonetheless, Bretz-Morgan's "Any Dream Will Do" and Mathews' "Close Every Door" are solo standouts.

A one-act show with the entertainment power of double its weight, this production is well worth your running out to Allenberry. It's there all month, both kid-friendly and entertaining to adults. Take everyone - but do bring masks. For information visit