Recommended *** One of the first collaborations for the amazing talents Tim Rice ( Lyrics) and Andrew Lloyd Webber ( Music) was “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and after all these years, this , the first of what some might call the “Rock Musical” continues to please audiences, both young and old and of even greater importance, religious and/or not!. It is of course the story about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son that blends the bible story with music from many areas: of course Rock, but also Country/Western and pop as well as the Musical Theater music type.
Over these years, probably every local theater company has done a production either in the round or on a large stage with a large set, including several years with Donny Osmond playing Joseph. Strong productions have scored well at Marriott, Theatre at the Center and many others and along the way, there have been some modifications. Certainly not in the music itself which is a divine evening of entertainment, but in the production in general. In this Broadway In Chicago production, instead of the typical lavish set, they use a lot of video projections and lighting effects to produce what we see and guess what? It all works!
Lately, Broadway In Chicago productions have included leading roles performed by those who participated in The American Idol television talent reality contest.Some have fared well, making the adjustment to musical theater from solo performing. In this particular case, Diana DeGarmo takes on the role of The Narrator, who in reality is the Star of the production and Ace Young handles Joseph. While he is far more agile and personable on stage than I would have expected, his voice is just a bit to soft and light to carry off the role. In particular when he tries to hit some of the power phrases in “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do”.
DeGarmo has a kind of twang to her voice, a little bit country and a little bit nasal, but is adorable to watch. The audience fell in love with her from the start and never veered away. What makes this show so enjoyable is the ensemble and the men who portray the brothers- the sheer energy they bring to their characters ( they play more than their own) and the songs they do is amazing. Of note are the performances of Paul Castree ( “Those Canaan Days” where they have added a dinner with plate removal that is amazing), Brian Golub ( as Reuben, who does a sharp “One More Angel in Heaven”) and Will Mann ( Judah and the Calypso, :Benjamin Calypso”). These were so energy packed as choreographed by Director Andy Blankenbuehler that even if you were tired, you found yourself getting a second wind.
While it is pretty much the same show as when it was first produced, the changes are only positive and the MX at the end, where we get a small review as the actors take their bows is just as much fun as ever. They of course have kept the “Elvis/Pharaoh ” deftly handled by Ryan Williams instead of doing what others have done to upgrade. Marriott did it with Justin Bieber so their young audience would relate. I wonder how the younger people in this audience reacted to “Elvis”? Did they even know what the reference was? Speaking of youngsters there were a great number of them in the audience and while this is a family show, this production made a little more of the scene between Joseph and his employer’s wife Mrs Potiphar ( the very sexy and sensuous Claire Camp) which may have led to some questions on the ride home.
The major problem with a show like this, for a city like ours, at least, is that it is only here through March 30th- YES, March 30th with performances as follows:
Wednesday 7:30 p.m. 2 p.m. on 3/26 as well
Thursday 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.
Sunday 2 p.m.
additional performance at 7:30 p.m. on 3/23
Tickets range from $18- $115 and are available at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by phone at the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com, where you can also see what else is coming to our theaters.
The Cadillac palace Theatre is located at 151 West Randolph Street between LaSalle Street and Wells, so public transportation will get you there Running time approx. 2 hours including a 15 minute intermission. Don’t forget to stay for the MIX, that is one of the best features of the production .
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Joseph”