Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Note:  This show was reviewed at The Dunfield Theatre and Huron Country Playhouse.  It is now on stage at the King’s Wharf Theatre, Penetanguishene, August 10 to September 2, 2017.  

Go, Go, Go, Joseph

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – it’s been very popular with both regional theatre and community theatre ever since Donnie Osmond played the title role in Toronto.  But the production of this audience favourite, now on stage at Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, is the best I’ve seen, thanks to faster action and funnier performances.

This Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical is fairly true to the Bible story – you can check the facts in Genesis, chapters 37 to 39.  But with a little poetic licence, Lloyd Webber and Rice added something for every music lover – the score includes a cowboy hoedown, a Parisian artist scene, a calypso number, a sixties hippie party, and everyone’s favourite, Elvis.

Jacob has 12 sons, but he openly shows favouritism towards Joseph. The 11 brothers are jealous when Dad gives Joseph the famous colourful coat. When Joseph shows off his smarts by interpreting dreams, the brothers decide to get rid of him. Instead of following through on their first plan to kill him, they sell him into slavery. Joseph ends up working for Potiphar, whose hussy wife tries to seduce him. Joseph is jailed, but his skill at interpreting dreams gets him out and he is made Pharaoh’s assistant. When his starving brothers show up, Joseph tries to frame little brother Benjamin for theft. But then he tells them who he is.  All is forgiven, and everyone re-creates the story in the huge megamix finale.

Credit goes to Director Max Reimer and Choreographer Gino Berti for making this a lively, fun-loving, fast-paced and hilarious production of Joseph.  Reimer is a former artistic director at Huron Country Playhouse.

Jamie McKnight as Joseph shows how his soaring tenor is perfect for songs like “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door”. He has just the right cockiness as he proudly swirls the coat of many colours.   Danielle Wade as the Narrator tells the story in her clear, bell-like voice, and the two of them sing wonderfully together.

Mark Harapiak has fun as Reuben giving his best country and western impression with “One More Angel in Heaven” and “Hoedown”.  Special mention goes to Judy Kovacs for her high soprano back-up singing.  Sheldon Davis and Riley McCoy are hilarious as Potiphar and Mrs. Potiphar.  Davis has perfect comedic timing making the most of his affection for his teddy bear, while McCoy is a delightful temptress.  Mike Jackson as Pharaoh reveals talent as an Elvis impersonator, right down to his “Thank you, thank you very much”.

Those Canaan Days, the Parisian-inspired song and scene where the brothers are starving, is very entertaining thanks to Justin Bott as Simeon.  Bott has polished his comedic skills in various farces.  Apache dancers David Light and Shelley Kenney have intricate and well-choreographed moves to wrap up the French scene.  In the calypso number, Jeremy Carver-James as Judah entertains with his good voice and Island moves.  Wayne Berwick as the father, Jacob, gives a heart -wrenching performance as he grieves the loss of Joseph.

Special mention goes to Sam DiGiuseppe, the butler who continues to buttle, and Al Braatz, the baker who comes to an untimely death.  Both characters learn their outcomes, thanks to Joseph’s dream interpretations. Tyrell Witherspoon is amusing as Benjamin, the terrified younger brother who gets framed for stealing the golden cup.  The entire ensemble deserves praise for their intricate and amazing choreography, as well as the excellent harmonies.

If you happen to nod off in the middle of this production – but I can’t imagine that would ever be possible – you can catch up on the entire show when it is all repeated in the megamix at the end.  Again, the fast pace and tight timing make the magamix work!

In the program, Director Max Reimer tells the audience to “borrow your child’s eyes and ears,…and see and hear this story as if for the very first time.” That won’t be necessary – with this talented cast, you’ll be laughing out loud, having more fun than the kids.

Joseph… continues with eight shows a week until June 24 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling Toll Free 1-855-372-9866 or check www.draytonentertainment.com.  It will be re-staged at King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene August 10 to September 3.

Photo: Jamie McKnight as Joseph with Danielle Wade as Narrator and Ensemble in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 2017 Season. Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Lyrics by Tim Rice, Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Max Reimer
Musical Direction by Anthony Bastianon
Choreographed by Gino Berti
Performed by Jamie McKnight, Danielle Wade, et al.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 7 to June 24, 2017
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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