If you’ve never seen a production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, here’s a brief summary: it’s the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, taken from Genesis and placed in a world of craziness. The show has a long, interesting history, first composed as a 15-minute program by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for a high school program in 1968. Over the years, it was expanded, recorded, produced again and again, and was finally promoted as a follow-up to the popular “Jesus Christ Superstar”. It hit Broadway in 1982 and a movie video was released in 1999.
Tonight we watched it performed by a talented group of children and adults, and it was impressive, and yes, crazy, in a Mel Brooks kind of way. The story is completely told through song (transitions provided by the narrator, in song), and quickly and humorously moved through the major events of Joseph’s life. To say that the musical numbers do not adhere to any one style would be an understatement. Suddenly, Joseph's brothers were in Paris performing a sort-of French ballad. Later, while groveling before the un-recognized Joseph in Egypt, they turned in a great calypso/reggae performance.
Children remained in current-day clothing, as did the narrator. The rest of the cast maintained their Biblical-age attire with the notable exception of Pharoah; in what began as a stately Egyptian musical number, complete with two Anubis gods, suddenly became a Vegas-style Elvis impersonator show. The wonderful, singing Elvis-Pharoah (Tom Bush) walked down into the audience and asked a woman to stand up with him. She responded with “are you kidding?” “No, I’m not, Ma’am - that’s how we do it in Egypt.”
Joseph (Addison Reid Coe) did a nice job, although his voice became slightly nasal at times. The time-traveling narrator (Peggy Keuning) had a stunningly beautiful voice that moved effortlessly from one scene to another, defying any range limitations. The brothers gave strong performances and were as adept with a country-western song as they were with a disco number (and we won’t quibble with why Benjamin was included as one of the trouble-making brothers). This was a very entertaining musical, joyful and hilarious, and just great fun to watch.