BWW Review: Theatre Three's production of JOSEPH is “a walking work of art!”
On February 15, Port Jefferson's Theatre Three premiered their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and it couldn't have opened at a better time. We are currently living in very trying times, and this production is the right remedy that will definitely get your spirits up.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a re-imagining of the Biblical story of Joseph, his "coat of many colors" and his eleven envious brothers. "Way, way, back, many centuries ago..." I mean decades ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice teamed up for the first time ever to write a pop cantata about a story from the Old Testament. What began as a 15-minute musical composition in 1962, eventually grew and grew into the current 100-minute musical. This piece marks the beginning of one the most crucial collaborations of the theater. Interestingly enough, even though this was the first show both Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created, it would not be the first to be staged on Broadway. The dream of Joseph coming to Broadway became a reality in 1982, after Jesus Christ Superstar (1971) and Evita (1979) catapulted the songwriting team into stardom.
Once again, Theatre Three knocks another production into the heavens. Jeffrey Sanzel directs a stellar production that at times will take your breath away. I especially loved the choice of casting women as some of Joseph's brothers. Randall Parsons once again creates a beautiful set that instantly transports you to Egypt upon entering the theater. The lighting design by Robert W. Henderson, Jr. was also brilliant; the synchronized light changes while the cast is singing the colors of "Joseph's Coat" was a nice touch.
Playing the role of the titular interpreter of dreams is C.J. Russo who does a formidable job. He really does make the role his own. In this case, Russo brings a great deal of comedy to the role making Joseph seem more like an everyman as opposed to an idolized being. In order to have a successful production of Joseph, you need to have a strong Narrator. The Narrator is a teacher teaching her class the story of Joseph. You need an actress that captures the humaneness and essence of a teacher, yet also is highly entertaining, which is no easy feat. In the 1982 Broadway production, the legend that was Laurie Beechman inhibited the role. In Theatre Three's production, we have the talented Sari Feldman who does the role justice. As soon as she steps out on stage for the "Prologue", she immediately has the audience eating out of her hand. Feldman has a strong voice, an even stronger stage presence and great comedic timing. Her interpretive dance with puppets had the audience in hysterics. Feldman masterfully captures the role of the educator in this show; you can sense the strong connection she has with her students. As an audience member, you will feel like you are part of her class and have been a part of it all year long. It was very sweet to find out, after the show, that Ms. Feldman actually is the teacher of Joseph's fabulous children's choir. The tie-dye clad children's choir is in a league of its own; there harmonious sound was heavenly.
As amazing as the leads were, the supporting cast was just as stellar. Douglas J. Quattrock was captivatingly funny as Jacob and Potiphar. It was wonderful to see Nicole Bianco, an amazing dancer, give another knock-out performance as Mrs. Potiphar and Dan, one of Joseph's eleven brothers. While the brothers were all great, I have to give a shout-out to Steven Uihlein and Londel Collier. In Act II, Uihlein perfectly captured the wit and humor of the French-tinged, "Those Canaan Days"; he is a perfect blend of Nathan Lane and Martin Short. Collier was enrapturing with his performance of "Benjamin's Calypso"; the entire audience was filled with glee while Collier performed. Andrew Lenehan, steals the show with his spot-on performance of the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh. He had the entire audience hooting and hollering as if they were really watching the King live.
I urge you readers to make it a point of seeing this show. Not only is this a show about the importance of making your dreams a reality, but it's also a show about the importance of forgiveness; a quality I think many people have forgotten, especially in this day and age. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's pastiche score uses many different styles of music including: country, rock-a-billy, disco, jazz, French, and calypso, just to name a few. This broad musical style helped the song-writing team amplify how the story of Joseph is relatable to all. No matter what culture, race, religion, or gender, this is a story you can identify with. Mr. Sanzel's production solidifies this notion; Bravo!
This truly was a wonderful experience. I never really understood the importance of this show until I saw this eye-opening production. Thank you for the enlightenment Theatre Three.
You can purchase tickets to see Joseph here: https://www.theatrethreetickets.com/tickets