Wednesday May 24th 2017

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Highly Recommended *****On the heels of its successful production of “My Fair Lady”, Paramount Theatre, for its second production brings to its stage, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, the beloved Bible story of Joseph and the coat of many colors as told by Andrew Lloyd  Webber and Tim Rice, the “rock” musical. This is a show that has been seen in the Chicago area many times since its lengthy stay at The Chicago Theater with Donny Osmond and yet under the direction/choreography of Stacey Flaster, one of our areas sharp talents, I found myself seeing this version as even more energetic than previous viewings. The story of  Jacob ( deftly handled by George Keating, who also takes on the role of Potiphar, the man who Joseph is sold to as a slave by his brothers) and his eleven sons is one that in the bible we are told , is one of jealousy, as he dotes on Joseph , over the others. He reminds him very much of the deep love he had for Joseph’s mother. To show his love to Joseph, he has a special coat of many colors made for him and that is when we see the reaction of the brothers.

After Joseph ( an amazing performance by  young Brian Bohr, a local student who we will be seeing more of in the years to come) is sold to Potiphar, he is seduced by Mrs. Potiphar and then sent to prison, where it is learned that he has a talent for interpreting dreams. The Pharaoh ( a very funny Vasily Deris, who takes the Elvis-like caricature to e new level) has had some bad dreams and thus calls for Joseph to tell him the meaning. Joseph is rewarded by becoming his right hand man. Meanwhile, his father and  brothers are living through a famine and so the brothers go to Egypt to ask for help. They don’t realize that they are before their own brother, and when they find out forgiveness is granted and the family re-united. Part of what makes this “rock opera” so delightful is the energy and the music, and under the slick direction of Flaster, who utilizes the children’s chorus in a new way and has dance routines that are sensational,this version truly shines. There is no dialogue- just songs and the entire story is told by the Narrator ( the stunning and talented Lara Filip) who leads us through the entire story. Flaster has the kids enter from the house, using the aisles rather than sitting in a corner of the stage and from time to time has them in scenes coming from different directions. These kids have some great voices ( Kara Blasingame,Sydney J. Cusic, Sophie Evans, Audrey Hare,Ethan J. Isaacson,Dan Keller, Brenda McCray, Natalie Pear, adorable Matthew Uzarraga,Janie Voris,Zachariah Wilson and Jake Ziman- these are names, I hope to see in the future as they are solid performers, just as is young Bohr, handles himself like a pro and his vocal range is dynamic-“Close Every Door” will send chills up your spine!

The ensemble is one of great strength and energy from start to finish with many of Chicago’s finest;James Earl Jones II ( who does the Reggae “Benjamin Calypso “number),Corey Stonebrook ( doing the hoedown number “One More Angel in Heaven”) and Mike Erickson who does the French “Those Canaan Days with a wild Apache dance. The energy level of this show is very powerful making the two hours feel as if it has flown by and when the show  comes to an end and they re-do some of the numbers, we , the audience are re-energized not wanting the show to end. A Standing ovation, a well deserved standing ovation, began before they took their final bows. This is a true test of how an audience feels and they expressed it with pure love for a production that is worth the ride to Aurora for. The musical leadership of Shawn Stengel and his orchestra, the set by Kevin Depinet, the dazzling costumes by Melissa Torchia, lighting by Jesse Klug, sound by Ray Nardelli and props by Meredith Miller are what makes this show complete. I am sorry that it is out of the range for the Jeff Award qualifications as this production would have many nominations.

The only problem I see in the productions at The paramount Theatre in Aurora’s “Broadway Series” is the length of time for their productions. “Joseph” is only there through November 20th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and7:30 p.m.,Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $34.90 to $49.60 ( about half of what you would pay for a production in a loop theater) a true bargain for theater of this quality. To order your tickets call the box office at 630-896-6666 or if in the area, visit the box office or online www.ParamountAurora.com

The theater is located at 23 East Galena in the beautiful downtown Aurora with valet parking and street parking available- just down the street from the casino. Next up-“A Chorus line” in January followed by “Hair” in March. A note to Jim Corti, Artistic Director- the bar has been set high- keep it up!

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