Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat -- Summer Theatre of New Canaan
For starters, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is a youthful outpouring, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in their salad days. With its captivating music and lyrics, this Brit musical is hard to resist. It is the Old Testament as this gifted team chose to see it -- an irreverent but charming interpretation of the Biblical tale.
And now comes The Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s exuberant, joyous production, which is true to the Lloyd Webber/Rice intent, and then some. Director Melody Libonati (Artistic Director of the company) puts her sizeable cast through their paces, never missing a beat. The entire company is constantly in motion, with music and song -- creating a colorful, exciting festival.
Choreographer Doug Shankman offers inspired ever-changing routines, which play out beautifully. And Arthur Oliver’s delightful costumes, which spoof more than reflect the Old Testament world, add to the dazzle.
Libonati has been inspired to use youngsters, as well as her professional cast. It may indeed be a way to involve the community and surrounding areas in the project, but the point is that it works. With not too much expected of them choreographically, the youngsters perform flawlessly and in unison. They are in thrall to the Narrator (the excellent Corrine C. Broadbent), who unfolds the tale, like a Sunday school teacher, though Sunday School was never like this.
As to the tale itself, Joseph is the son of the patriarch Jacob, one of twelve sons (the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel, according to the Bible.) Because Joseph is his favorite son, Jacob presents him with a gift, a coat of many colors. The brothers, incensed and jealous, seize Joseph and sell him into slavery, to a passing caravan. He is taken from Canaan to Egypt, where, after a series of adventures and misadventures, he becomes the Pharoah’s right-hand man. Why? Because Joseph has the gift of interpreting dreams, thus saving Egypt from famine. When famine overwhelms Canaan, and Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt, seeking help, he forgives and rescues them. Thus, a tale of forgiveness.
In the title role, Christopher DeRosa makes a dazzling debut. With a fine voice and strong masculine presence, this Joseph was bound to rise to the top. Who could have resisted him? Certainly not the Pharoah of Egypt. Nor Potiphar’s wife. Nor the audience.
But DeRosa has strong support. As always, Brian Silliman gives several letter-perfect performances, playing the ponderous Jacob and the wily Potiphar (and also, briefly, a condemned Egyptian). As Mrs. Potiphar, Grace Hardin, graces the role with wit and sexiness. And William Hammons clearly enjoys himself, revving up the audience, as the Elvis-type Pharoah.
In all, a happy experience for company and audiences alike.
This review also appears in nytheaterscene.com, jewish post & opinion, jewish-theatre.com.