New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

Connecticut Theater

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat"
Ivoryton Playhouse, Ivoryton

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” marked the beginnings the famed Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice team. Though the team would go on from strength to strength (with “Evita,” “Phantom of the Opera” and others still in the future) this first show revealed the fresh, brash quality of new talents.

And now an exuberant young company at the Ivoryton Playhouse is true to that original promise. Under the combined direction of  Billy Johnstone (director/choreographer) and John DeNicola (musical direction), the show really takes off. The show’s strengths lie in its first-class ensemble work, its dance numbers, not in its story interpretation. No one misses a beat, as “Joseph” unfolds, making the company numbers a joy to watch.

In this Ivoryton version, the Bible takes a back seat, with casual modern dress also distancing the story. Yet the Biblical tale offers something of a framework: Jacob, the patriarch, favors his son Joseph over his eleven brothers, giving him a coat of many colors. In retaliation, the jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery, handing him over to traveling Ishmaelites. But Joseph has a secret weapon, the ability to interpret dreams, which raises him to the heights when he reaches the Egyptian court.

Along the way, this thin thread of a story allows for a marvelous collection of tunes—among them, “Any Dream Will Do,” “Potiphar,” and “One More Angel in Heaven”—highlighting Lloyd Webbers’ catchy music and Rice’s clever slangy commentary. In this spoof of a venerable Biblical tale, the formidable team does not hesitate to mix musical styles—everything from American western to rock to calypso. Outrageous in their mockery of the Bible (like two rebellious teen-agers), the writers have turned Pharoah himself into an Elvis Presley look-alike (ably performed by Steven Michael Zack).

There are no stars in this production. “Ensemble” is the operative word here. But Jessica Pierson’s brief appearance as Mrs. Potiphar is a show-stopper, and Darin R. Lee as Potiphar himself is highly entertaining. Carlin Morris, playing a boy narrator, shows remarkable stage presence, and Brandon Davidson turns in an appealing performance as Joseph.

-- Irene Backalenick
Aug. 16, 2007

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