BWW Review: Colorful JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT Continues Theatre By The Sea's 85th Year Celebration

BWW Review: Colorful JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT Continues Theatre By The Sea's 85th Year Celebration

Moreso than many other shows, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is a musical that is rife for reinvention, and the current production at Theatre By the Sea, directed and choreographed by Richard Sabellico, has also been given its own unique spin.

The 1973 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical is based on several chapters from Genesis, and incorporates a variety of musical styles and a timeless story of lost innocence, jealousy, and the power of redemption that makes this show appeal to audience members of all ages.

Richard Sabellico's version presents the show as if it's being put on "by a traveling troupe of beleaguered performers touring the country in 1967; 'Jacob and Sons Traveling Salvation Show,'" according to the director's note. The scenery, props and era-appropriate costumes reflect this conceit well, with the actors marching down the aisles towards the stage at the very beginning of the show, marveling at their new surroundings as they begin to set up shop. While this set up is referred to at a few points during the show, reminding the audience that we're seeing the production of a ragtag performing troupe, it feels largely forgotten by the end of the second act. This isn't much of a problem though, as the performances in Joseph are so very strong. There is also interesting use of American Sign Language during Joseph's dream interpretations throughout the production.

Luke Steinhauer plays the title role in his debut at Theatre By the Sea. He is perfectly charismatic as Jacob's favorite son, and provides fine renditions of several of the show's most famous songs, "Close Every Door," and "Any Dream Will Do." Marie Eife, as the Narrator, previously seen at Theatre By the Sea in Beauty and the Beast and The Producers, has a powerful voice and boundless energy, seeing as her character is on-stage for much of the show. She does a remarkable job with the variety of song styles that are required of her character. Michael Williams, as the clearly Elvis-inspired Pharaoh, has every mannerism and the singing style down pat - and although the Pharaoh's song carries on just a bit too long, a fault of the score and not this production - his performance (complete with fainting cheerleaders) was clearly a crowd pleaser. Another crowd pleaser is Tom Gleadow, a veteran of many Theatre by the Sea productions, who provides consistently humorous turns in the varied roles of Jacob, Potiphar, and the Baker.

The rest of Jacob's sons and the female chorus rise to the challenge of Sabellico's energetic, athletic choreography, requiring styles as varied as the country-western tinged "One More Angel in Heaven" and "Benjamin Calypso," which is indeed a Caribbean flavored tune towards the end of the second act. The extreme variety of songs that Webber uses in Joseph can leave one scratching their head at times, but every member of this production's cast gave spirited and honest interpretations of everything they were presented with.

The technical aspects of the show all serve to enhance the production with an emphasis on the "Technicolor" part of the title through the use of bold colors in all aspects. True to the "1967 touring troupe" theme, the cast is mainly outfitted in bohemian, hippie-style garb, changing hats to denote different scenes and themes. The sets were largely simple backdrops that nevertheless supported the tone of the scene at hand, whether a wall of glitzy tinsel for Potiphar and his wife, or a single set of jail bars when Joseph is imprisoned. There is one notable exception to the simplicity towards the very end of the show, when Joseph is finally reunited with his father. Along with strings of rainbow colored Christmas lights hanging throughout the theatre, the lighting enhanced the action on stage with an array of reds and blues and other vibrant colors. The score was played by a small orchestra, with musical direction by Ryan Edward Wise. Occasionally the music drowned out the singers, particularly at the beginning of several solos, but this was evened out before long in every instance. To note, this production ends with the "Megamix" which, while presented in a style that is no longer consistent with the "1967 traveling troupe," is a memorable, high-energy way to end the show.

Theatre By the Sea's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a very entertaining evening of theatre; don't sleep through the opportunity to catch this warm-hearted show, appropriate for audience members of all ages.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs through August 12, with performances scheduled Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00pm, Thursdays at 2:00pm, Saturdays at 3:00 and Sundays at 5:00pm. Tickets are $52 - $75 (additional fees may apply), and discount rates are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (401) 782-TKTS (8587). Tickets are on sale at the box office Monday through Saturday from 11am - 6:00pm, Sundays from 12 noon - 5:00pm and performance days until curtain, online 24 hours a day at www.theatrebythesea.com and via telephone during normal box office hours by calling (866) 811-4111 or (401) 782-TKTS (8587).

Photo: Luke Steinhauer (Joseph) and the cast of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, by Steven Richard Photography.

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From This Author Erica Cataldi-Roberts

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