Dan O’Neill in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo: CLT
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Lyrics by Tim Rice and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Cathy Ryan
A review by Jennifer Starr
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Jennifer Starr. All rights reserved.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the journey of Joseph, the favored son of Jacob and one of twelve brothers, and his coat of many colors. It is based on a biblical story about a family that overcomes quite a dysfunctional moment when 11 brothers plot to kill their second-to-youngest brother, Joseph, because he told them of a dream he had where he would rule over them all, plus their father, Jacob, liked Joseph best and gave him the good coat. Joseph survives being thrown into a pit, but the brothers still decide to sell him off into slavery. Then they tell their dad that Joseph died. Hilarity ensues as we follow the story of Joseph and how his dreams, and the interpretations of said dreams, come to save his life and get him back into his family fold once again.
We have the lyrics and music of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to guide us through the adventures of Joseph and his family. Though this musical was their first joint endeavor, it did not gain its fuller length and popularity until after their sophomore effort of Jesus Christ Superstar shot them into stardom. Their seemingly obtuse collection of song varieties and styles helps to tell the lessons of what it means to be a family. It’s as if Rice and Lloyd Webber collected a lattice of musical theatre song genres and wove them into a tapestry for us to wear as a feel-good, snuggly comforter.
Playing to a sold-out house on opening night at Clarksville Little Theatre, the large cast shone brightly as they sang and danced in this 1970s-era (corny at times) musical. The energy and anticipation of the audience made up of family members of the cast and crew, was magical and gave us all a great sense of community spirit. The audience was completely engaged throughout the production. The cast was energetic, and upbeat, and went full-in on some of the cornier aspects of the play, which I loved! The super-large ensemble moved well together with choreography and use of the very full stage. A range of acting skills was apparent and worked wonderfully together. There were teachable moments in the production, not only in the storyline but in the mechanics of the art of drama, encouraging younger, less experienced actors. This was truly a magnificent community theatre moment to behold. I could tell every single actor enjoyed being on that stage. A theatre director’s dream if there ever was one.
Exceptional moments I witnessed were cute camels and Ishmaelites that were reminiscent of the Jawas in Star Wars, an Elvis Presley impersonator (Jason Potts) that stole my heart, a well-rehearsed children’s ensemble, and a stage-encircling costume surprise element. Outstanding cast members include Dan O’Neill who played Joseph with light-hearted sincerity, Rebecca Brewer as a captivating, storytelling teacher and one of four narrators, Lee Gibson as Old Father Jacob whose moans were everything, Jason Potts as the Pharaoh, Christie Thompkins as the “And Here’s To You“ seductive Mrs. Potiphar, Richard Ryan, as Reuben who led the brothers in the show-stopping number, “Those Canaan Days”, and Lincoln Fogarty, who portrayed the youngest brother with the best sense of timing and love, wee Benjamin.
Theatrical production elements added to the plot and enhanced the storyline. The set painting and design (Larry Chaney and Family) were lovely and incorporated lighting that included dynamic sparkles in the backdrop, which offset the common lighting stage washes. I liked the Mediterranean plant set décor and appreciated the use of steps for levels, though, seated towards the back of the house, I could have used more. The vivid costumes (by Cathy Ryan) of overalls and tie-dyed shirts plus the effective well-rehearsed choreography (by Valerie Canon) gave a groovy 1970’s vibe! I appreciated the use of a live band, though there were vocal sound issues that limited story points at times.
A dreamy show and a classic instance of true community theatre supported by a loving and affirming audience. The book has an underdeveloped storyline, particularly as to why the eleven brothers wanted to get rid of poor Joseph in the first place, and both my theatre-going companion and I thought the wives needed their own song and dance number. To be sure, this was a family-friendly and very entertaining show. It was full of smiles and laughter and gave me crazy good dreams of what a talented cast and director can do. Bravo!
Cast Rebecca Brewer, Sydney Warner, Anna Burnham, Riley Cardwell, Dan O’Neil, Lee Gibson, Jason Potts, John Campbell, Richard Ryan, Jason Lindsey, Ronald Ogburn, Colby Pennington, Owen Elsbury, Bradyn Gundle, Will Weathersby, Jupiter Zorn, Lincoln Fogarty, Connie Schlieker, Christie Tompkins, Erin McMahon, Mary Probst, Julianne Horn, Christa Thompson, Ella Stackhouse, Ella Stroud, Amanda Ogburn, Hannah Vaughn, Sallie Proffitt, Ellis Aldridge, Emma Brose, Emma Bussabarger, Chloe Finn, Kathleen Gahagen, Izzy Kaelin, Madi Lindsey, Madoc McMahon, Emmaline Probst, Louisa Rieger, Josie Snyder, Emma Sparger, Joel Thompson, Georgia Thompson, Jordan Wesely, and Riley Yanez.
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
September 8, 9, 15, & 16 @ 7:30 pm
September 10 & 17 @ 2:00 pm
Clarksville Little Theatre
301 Montgomery Avenue
Clarksville, IN 47129
Jennifer Starr is a Louisville Director, Actor, Stage Manager, and avid theatre goer with a BA in Theatre Arts with minors in Music and English from Eastern Kentucky University. She serves on the board of directors of the Mind’s Eye Theatre Company and often assists local community theatre productions with her time and talent.