Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Stages' sprightly production of Joseph has two extraordinary bonuses for their loyal audiences. The first is a dazzling, show-stopping Elvis interpretation by Rye Mullis as the Pharaoh and the second, an equally dazzling and longer-lasting performance as Joseph by Christopher Kale Jones, fresh from his astonishing work as Frankie Valli in the national tour of Jersey Boys. I've said this before about Stages, and I'll say it again: you could spend a week in New York or London and not see anything better than these performances, and the tickets would cost you a lot more.
Not that the rest of the cast is lacking anything, either; from a sharply drawn reading of the narrator by Jones's wife Jenna Coker-Jones through Bill Lynch's spot-on work as Potiphar (beautifully costumed by Lou Bird) and Jacob to solid ensemble work by the sons of Israel and their wives, the production is imaginative and exuberant from beginning to end. Director/Choreographer Stephen Bourneuf keeps the pacing brisk, and the design team of James Wolk (set), Matthew McCarthy (lighting) and Lou Bird presents us with a spectacularly colorful series of images. Great stuff all around.
Joseph isn't your classic Broadway musical, of course; in form, it is about as close to a rock opera as one can get, with episodic scenes connected by something like recitative. In tone, it is oddly contradictory, simultaneously thoroughly irreverent (the sons of Israel doing a calypso number, for example) andbeyond the fooling arounddeeply respectful of its people and their significance. But it is a satisfying, even a gratifying story, a reminder to all of us of the odd joys of being human. As with Jesus Christ Superstar, audiences have learned not to poke too deeply into the theological innards of Joseph and instead simply to relax and enjoy the old, old story retold in an idiom that is as appealing to kids as it is to their grandparents.
Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat will continue through August 17 at Stages St. Louis; the show is basically sold out, but there may be a few returns. The box office number is 314-821-2407.