If there are people who come from families with many siblings, as I do, they may have once or twice in their lives considered selling one of their siblings into slavery. Most of the time, this is just a passing dark fancy because we all know that it is quite wrong to sell your sibling to passing traders and then say that he is dead. And if you do sell your sibling into slavery, you will get your comeuppance. That's the moral of the story of Civic Theatre's summer offering, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph is an example of their earlier work. This production combines a delicious mélange of musical forms - both traditional and non-conformist - and is closer to opera than the more familiar musical theater. This vocal and visual feast is the perfect show to open the Civic Theatre's 89th season. We hope for many, many more!
Joseph is a perfect show for parents - parents who might want to find one event to haul a truckload of children to. Even better, parents should take siblings who fight and complain about each other a lot because in this story Joseph, played so beautifully by Kontrell Tyler, will show them that forgiveness and brotherhood is the better plan. This is the third Civic production of Joseph in which Tyler has performed, and his maturity in the leading role makes it a most satisfying experience. He is a joy to watch.
Even small children will respond to this lovely show, because it is action-packed: wonderful singers and dancers weave in and out of the mobile set, and - even with intermission - the play runs a little less than two hours. It's a dynamic experience.
For this, thank Director Doug King, Music Director Eunice Wadewitz and Assistant Choreographer Heather Closson for wrangling a huge cast into a tight, seemingly effortless spectacle. The athleticism of the dancers is electrifying, and the voices are charming, moving and hilarious.
The cast is absolutely first-rate. Look for Cedric Reeder-McClure, who combines comic sense with some gorgeous pipes. He plays the hapless Baker and one of the "villainous" brothers. His second-act "Those Canaan Days" is a sweetly-funny lament straight out of a Paris night club. Other standouts include riotous Ken Low in multiple parts, country-fried Kerry Yingling and Brad Davis as a hunka-hunka burning love Pharaoh.
Joseph also features a 37-member children's choir, directed by Holly Knott. The addition of these young voices brings a timeless quality to the piece, for what child does not love these stories of high adventure? What child does not occasionally wonder how it would be to perform center stage in an enormous theatre? And, in keeping with the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, almost all children, children of any age, have dreams of being the heroes of their own stories. These dreams might be tall or small - but any dream will do.