by Terrance Mc Arthur
I have been a fan of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat longer than almost every member of the CenterStage Clovis Community Theatre production’s cast has been alive, and I love what Scott Hancock and his cast have done with it.
I still have a vinyl recording of the 34-minute version, the CDs of Donny Osmond and Michael Damian, and the Osmond DVD. To think that it started as Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber (pre-Superstar) doing a 15-minute-long favor for a school music director. The Clovis version comes in briskly at under 90 minutes with an intermission.
Joseph is a retelling of the Bible story in the book of Genesis, where the dream-telling son of Jacob with the flashy clothes is sold by his jealous brothers into Egyptian slavery. His interpretations of dreams bring him fame and power…and the chance to save his family from famine (after tormenting his brothers for a while).
The Narrator for the show is often portrayed as a storyteller at an oasis, but this version presents her as a seminar leader, looking ready to give a PowerPoint slide show. Hancock has two performers, Lorraine Christiansen and Kylie Briggs, alternating for the run of the production. In the performance I saw, Christiansen was clear and strong, with an impish smile to brighten what could easily come off as a long Sunday School lesson.
Joseph is the pivotal role, and Jason Munoz throws himself into the part with gusto, jumping, dancing, scooter-pushing, hula-hooping, and sock-puppeting with enthusiasm. His “Close Every Door to Me” is heartfelt and uplifting.
Some of the actors playing the brothers get special moments of their own, perhaps to make up for not being cast as Joseph. Tim Fletcher sounds snootily French on “Those Canaan Days,” while Gian Console channels Roy Rogers on the country-western-flavored “One Less Angel In Heaven.” Marcus Cardenas stands out while blending in with the ensemble. Marcus is always worth watching, with a rubber face for great expressions, peppy movements, and great presence.
Elvis Presley is the model for the Rice/Webber version of Pharaoh, and Kyle Dodson sings it with a throaty rumbling that does justice to the King, although his costume seems a little flimsy and loose, as if Elvis went on Jenny Craig, but I’m crazy about the other costumes by Patti & Heather Karsevar.
Gianna Console is sinuous and sinister as Mrs. Potiphar, trying to seduce Joseph. Kristen Carlson Fletcher is a busy wife of Jacob onstage, leading a good amount of action. Dan Bishop is jovial and fatherly as Jacob, and cool and cruel as the rich Potiphar, Joseph’s owner in Egypt.
Pete van der Paardt conducts a powerful little orchestra. Sara Sweatt directed a children’s Chorus that is well behaved and filled with excellent performers.
Joseph is an exciting musical that touches down at musical destinations ranging from disco to calypso/reggae, with choreographic nods to everything from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video to Gangnam style. It’s lots of fun, and it might make you want to read the book. There is one, you know—it’s called the Bible.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat concludes its run at the Mercedes Edwards Theatre in Clovis, 902 Fifth Street, with performances July25-27 at 7:30pm. Adult tickets are $18, students and seniors are $15, elementary-school children are $5, and group tickets (20 or more) are $12. To order tickets or for further information, go to http://www.centerstageclovis.com/wordpress/