Regional Reviews: Cincinnati
La Comedia Dinner Theatre, located in Springboro, Ohio, is presentng one of their most pleasing productions to date with a first-rate staging of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The show is likely to entertain audiences of all ages thanks to some wonderful direction and strong performances.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a retelling of the Old Testament story of Jacob and his twelve sons. Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob, but his jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery. However, Joseph overcomes the odds to become a high ranking official under the Egyptian Pharaoh, and after many years, is finally reunited with his family.
This musical was one of the first collaborations between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The pair would go on to write Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita together, before continuing their esteemed careers separately. Webber's music for Joseph ... is mostly simple, yet quite melodic, and incorporates various styles including pop, country, reggae, vaudeville, and rockabilly, among others. Despite a few false rhymes, Rice demonstrates efficiency in his lyrics, along with a good deal of wit. Songs include "Jacob and Sons," "Close Every Door," and "Any Dream Will Do."
The story for this all-sung piece contains a good deal of humor (including just the right amount of camp), some lessons on forgiveness and maturity, and a sufficient level of drama. The book also effectively uses a narrator that both comments on and participates in the show's action.
The success of most productions of Joseph... hinges greatly on the performances of its two lead actors. Chris Crouch has turned in impressive performances at La Comedia in previous productions of Godspell and It's A Wonderful Life and is similarly noteworthy here. Mr. Crouch brings a colorful and strong singing voice to the role, and also provides emotional depth to the character. As the Narrator, Terri Dixon can't quite decide between country crooner and pop diva in her delivery of the material, but does sing well (especially on "Pharaoh's Story") and gives a spirited performance throughout. The entire cast is multi-talented and works hard. Others in the ensemble earning special mention are Jet Thomason (Reuben) and Chris Milburn (Pharaoh).
Keith Cromwell supplies some of the strongest direction/choreography for a La Comedia show in recent memory. His staging visually re-emphasizes the lyrics and story, and many theatrical devices are put to clever use. Mr. Cromwell ensures a fluid pace and smooth transitions as well. However, an effective overall vision for the piece is his greatest contribution. Cromwell also furnishes some interesting and high energy dances which are highlighted in "Go, Go, Go Joseph" and "Song of the King."
Matthew J. Evans provides the fun, interesting, and useful set design. Costumes by Jane Sizemore and Jody Williams are attractive throughout, but a bigger color contrast between Joseph's rainbow coat and the brothers' outfits would have made sense. The lighting design by Geoffrey D. Fishburn is professionally rendered and has some nice moments.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a family friendly show and is obviously in good hands at La Comedia thanks to strong direction and fine performances. The show continues through June 29, 2003, and tickets can be ordered online at www.lacomedia.com or by phone at 1-800-677-9505.