Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is performed so often that it’s easy to forget that it was one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first productions. Actually, it was his first show that the public got to see. He had written another before this, but it didn’t open until years later.
However, just listening to the overture of “Joseph” brings back the clever use of multiple music genres, a sung-through score, and a narrator. What works so well for this musical is that it is a signature piece of the collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music and Tim Rice’s lyrics. The twosome went on to create other success stories with productions like Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Considering that “Joseph” started out as a 15-minute prep school cantata, it’s amazing that its revisions ended up in London’s theater district and went on to Broadway.
Based on the biblical story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, “Joseph” has a universal appeal, which explains why thousands of amateur theater groups have included it in their seasons. Add to this that there is an adult and a youth ensemble and the show almost never fails to attract a good-sized audience.
Currently, the production is playing at Musicals at Richter in Danbury and it is an outstanding production. Director/choreographer Jane Matson has brought some very clever and original staging to the show. Most notably, she gives every member of the youth ensemble the opportunity to sing a verse or two solo at the end of the show making curtain call most entertaining. It’s a stroke of genius and allows all the youngsters the opportunity to showcase their talents, and do they ever. She also did a clever bit of staging when she substituted a young man for a limbo pole, which added to the fun as the other characters danced under the slim character. Matson incorporated quite a few unique ideas in the dance numbers and throughout the production, making the show most memorable. Musical director Tom Morris did a fine job with the cast and the six-piece orchestra.
The cast is terrific. Katie Cummings as the narrator has a contagious smile, a strong voice and an expressive face that accents each stage of Joseph’s journey from the favored son to the bane of his 11 jealous brothers, to slavery and ultimately his rise to power.
Connor Spain as Joseph is so likeable that he fits the role perfectly. His vocals are solid and his performance emphasizes the fun factor of the show. There is a lot of humor in this piece and the cast hits every punch line with perfect timing. This includes John Armstrong as Jacob and Potiphar, Bobby Bria as Pharaoh and all eleven of Joseph’s brothers. They are played by: Karl Hinger, Brian Bermer, Noah Matson, Jacob Schultz, Brian Hinger, Marco Fiumara, Jack Armstrong, Ismael Santana, Rachel Salvador, Brian Salvador, and Brailyn Rodriguez. Lexi Tobin, Beth Bria, Stacy Bassinger-Goodman, Mary Rose Canevari and Susan Gelb play wives. The Youth Ensemble includes: Domenic Burns, Emma Lubbers, Lina Burns, Hannah Margiloff, Elilzabeth Clayton, Viola Minor, Nicole DeMotte, Olivia Squiers Minor, Vincent Fontenelli, Jessica Olexy, Abby Giansiracusa, Madeline Jessica Olexy, and Jesse Goodman.
Jane Matson and Lauren Nicole Sherwood worked on costumes and Joseph’s Technicolor dream coat was the most colorful and beautiful one that this reviewer has ever seen. Bradford Blake’s set design is always attractive and functional and Victoria Meskill’s props spot on. The production plays through Aug. 6. Box office: 203-748-6873
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: [email protected]