“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Brings a Timeless Tale to Life

By Mara Shapiro

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Students, staff, and family file into the Robert L. Johnson Auditorium. The chit-chatting ceases when the voice of theatre director Andrew Sinclair reverberates throughout the room, asking for the audience to silence all electronics and reminding them that no flash photography will be permitted. The lights go off, band director Justin Johnson cues the pit, and the musical is set to begin.

FIRST ACT

The musical begins with a young boy (Park View sixth grader Roland Teivans) being bullied by his classmates. He starts to feel dejected when a mysterious little girl hands him a story book. The tale of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” begins as the story comes to life before the young boy’s eyes.

Narrators (sophomore Sharon Pasia and seniors Merrick McWherter and Becca Gratch) provide background information for the viewers. They tell the tale of Joseph (junior Surdeep Chauhan) and his many brothers. Joseph is his father, Jacob’s (freshman Alan Kotlyar) favorite, and Jacob makes this very clear to his other children when he gifts Joseph a multi-colored coat. As if this didn’t already put the brothers on edge, Joseph goes and tells them that he dreams of them bowing down to him. Way to get your jealous brothers to like you, right?

Fueled by their anger, the brothers decide to drop Joseph off in the desert, leaving him for dead. This leads into one of my favorite songs of the show, “One More Angel in Heaven.” The brothers all acquire country-western accents and “cry” with their father when they announce Joseph’s death, but when Jacob walks off stage, they all break into an energetic hoedown that definitely shows the audience that these people are not sane, considering they just left their brother to die. The transition to crazy hoedown from false sympathy was executed nicely. Throughout the whole show the brothers had great cohesion, movement and facial expressions. They were very well put-together.

Meanwhile, Joseph is found by travelers and brought to Lord Potiphar (sophomore Andre Eramia). All is going well for Joseph until Potiphar’s unfaithful wife (junior Jessie Rosell) tries to seduce Joseph. Rosell’s moves and attempts to get Joseph were hilarious and made the whole audience laugh. Of course, Potiphar freaks out and locks Joseph up for his indecency. This is where Chauhan’s big number, “Close Every Door,” comes in. It was done beautifully. Chauhan’s singing was fantastic, and it was obvious that there was emotion behind the lyrics. While locked up, Joseph helps two fellow inmates (sophomores Matthew Small and Sherlina Chauhan) interpret their dreams. After Joseph feels uplifted, the whole cast joins in with the upbeat tune “Go, Go, Go, Joseph.” This song is still stuck in my head because it was just that catchy.

SECOND ACT

Now here is where the pharaoh enters the building. The pharaoh (senior Alex Wood) is not your ordinary ruler of Egypt. He’s way cooler; he’s Elvis. Wood was decked out in a white and red jumpsuit as well as the signature Elvis hair, and he had the voice down pat. The pharaoh is having issues with his dreams, so his butler (Small), who was imprisoned with Joseph, remembers when Joseph helped him out with his own dream troubles. Joseph helps the pharaoh and becomes the prince of Egypt. Back in Canaan where Jacob and his sons reside, things aren’t looking so bright. They break out into a French-styled song of despair and hunger. Junior Cameron Broderick’s French accent had the perfect amount of exaggeration, and seeing all these people in Middle Eastern attire drinking wine and acting like poor French people was just awesome. Junior Carly Tennes‘ dance moves were phenomenal as she runs away with Jacob. After this, the brothers decide to go to Egypt to get some assistance. Little do they know that they will be meeting Joseph there.

The brothers arrive and don’t recognize the protagonist as they beg for help, so Joseph has a little power play and decides to play a trick on them. He slips an expensive object from the palace into his brother Benjamin’s (freshman Barry Ruderman) bag and demands Benjamin be locked up for his crime. This segues into another of my favorite songs, “Benjamin’s Calypso,” sung by junior Sebastian Achettu. They lyrics were funny, and Achettu’s Jamaican accent was superb. He made the song enjoyable, and it was easy to sway along to it. The brothers plead with Joseph until he realizes they are now honest people. He then reveals himself, Jacob is ecstatic, and they all live happily ever after.

Back in the present day, the bullied boy is rejuvenated after hearing of Joseph’s struggles and becomes happy again. As Teivans walks away, he asks the audience if they want more. Of course they all reply yes, and the Megamix, a mix of all the songs and dances in the show, is performed by the whole cast, complete with a disco ball.

I really enjoyed this musical. Going behind the scenes then seeing the finished product allowed me to see how much progress had been made. The lyrics were enunciated well, the dances were tight and the acting was overall convincing. The three narrators’ voices really came together with the pit’s music. The pit was fantastic and made the singing and acting possible.

Chauhan was a great hero who showed how perseverance pays off. Wood’s Elvis/pharaoh was a hit. All the child actors and Teivans were energetic and cute, and I know that should they choose to continue with theater in high school, they will be great. This musical showed off many students’ talents, such as Rosell, Achettu, and Tennes, actors who normally don’t get to be center stage in productions.  The brothers’ cohesion made them seem like the scary mob that they were, and Kotlyar convincingly played a doting father. Overall, this musical was a great choice, and Sinclair, the cast, crew and pit should be proud of themselves. This musical was definitely a great way to end my main show theatre coverage with a bang, and I thank the Fine Arts Department for all that they have let me do.

Still to come in the theater season is the Advanced Theatre Showcase and the Improv Show.