BWW Review: JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at The Players Centre
Congratulations to The Players Centre for Performing Arts celebrating their 90th birthday in "the biz"! Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, was their choice to start their year off with a razzle-dazzle bang.
Best stated by Managing Artistic Director Jeffery Kin, "We will be celebrating the entire year and we hope you will celebrate right along with us." According to director Cory Boyas, "I have so many fond memories associated with this show. Joseph was my first paying theater gig here in Sarasota back in 1991, and it is where I first met Jeffrey Ken, who played our Pharaoh. Alan Cory was our music director, Steven Vincent choreographed, and we were all led by the late, great Garry Breul".
The story is based on Joseph's coat of many colors as told in The Bible, (not to be confused with Dolly Parton's beautiful song about her childhood). The plot tightly follows the story of Joseph, a favored son out of 12 sons sired by Jacob. Jacob bestowed upon Joseph an elegant coat in a brilliant array of colors that was coveted by his conniving brothers. Joseph's acclaimed interpretations of dreams was bad enough for his brothers to swallow but the coat showing such honor and favor from their father towards him was the straw that broke the camel's back.
His brothers arrange to have Joseph killed. In order to prove his "death" they slaughter a goat and smear its blood on Joseph's coat to prove his demise to their father. In reality Joseph was sold into slavery to the house of Potiphar who threw him in jail noticing his wife's attraction to him. Joseph's ability to interpret dreams is told to Pharaoh who questions his own dreams. Joseph interprets seven years of great harvests followed by seven years of famine. For this, Joseph is put in charge of preparing for the years of famine and, just as he interpreted, his dreams came true.
The famine Joseph foresaw affected his family as well, prompting his brothers to travel to Egypt hoping to find work. They arrive at the house of Pharaoh were Joseph recognizes them. They do not recognize him, but instead bow to his feet as beggars. Joseph gives his brothers a sack of grain each but hides a goblet in one of his brother's sacks. Soon Benjamin is accused of the theft when the goblet is found in his sack and taken into custody. The brothers plead for Benjamin's release. Joseph frees Benjamin and reveals himself as their brother.
In doing some research I was surprised to find that Joseph was the first Lloyd Webber and Rice musical to be performed publicly. The show has only a few lines of spoken dialogue. Even the Narrator sings her part. This is a family friendly musical that offers a menu of diversity of music to its audience. Rather than a one-themed genre of tunes, Joseph offers a unique blend of folk, rock, calypso, and country with a twist of Elvis and a dash of Cher. It's a recipe for fun and so entertaining.
Nicholoudis as Joseph was interesting to watch as his character evolved from boy-like charm in the beginning to a courageous leader by the end of the program. He should take that voice to Broadway. Jim Wolfe as Jacob played a confident yet mild mannered man towards his 12 sons. Jamie Molina as the Narrator was very Anna Kendrick in her appearance and style, which made her shine. She had a big part with a lot of singing and moving around and she nailed it. If Elvis and Cher had a daughter, she would be Zoe Smith. Doing double duty as Pharaoh and one of the Dreamweavers, Zoe channeled in a little bit of Elvis with a whole lot of Cher and pulled it off like a pro.
Director/choreographer Cory Boyas allowed his cast to show off some breadth and depth of their characters. He kept the show running at a good clip and used the pivoting center stage to perfection.
Georgina Willmott provided dazzling costumes. (I was coveting "the coat" myself). The production beautifully came together with the blended talents of Production Manager Alyssa Goudy, Set Designer Jeff Weber, Sound Design by Josh Linderman, Lighting Designer Joseph P. Oshry and Musical Director Alan Corey and his orchestra.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs through October 6, 2019. For more information visit www.theplayers.org.