Judging from the recently filmed release, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (available on DVD and VHS) is both a little slice of 60's camp and the promising first work from a composing team now a legend in their own time.
Andrew Lloyd Weber's 78 minute film is slick, quick paced, and works perfectly. Directors David Mallet and Steven Pimlott preserve elements of the 1991 London stage revival, but most of the film utilizes an expansive sound stage, alternately switching locales between a “real” primary school gym and the opulently decorated sets, courtesy of designer Mark Thompson (who also decks the cast in some of the most absurdly retro costumes I have seen since Austin Powers).
Donny Osmond makes a fine Joseph, nicely balancing the naiveté and ultimate compassion of the Biblical character. His notorious pop upbringing works to his advantage with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s irresistible, if occasionally corny, score which features the standards “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do.” West End darling Maria Friedman co-stars as the Narrator and gives a wonderful performance in a role that could otherwise be overshadowed by the title character. Joan Collins and Richard Attenborough make notable guest appearances as the vampish Mrs. Potiphar and father Jacob, respectively.
Whatever its flaws, Joseph is an enormously entertaining musical from the golden age of high camp and kitsch, and this production should be a welcomed addition to any fan’s collection.
Victor/Victoria is based on the Blake Edwards film of the same name which in turn was based on the 1933 German film Viktor und Viktoria. It tells the tale of Victoria Grant, an English soprano, who is looking for work in Paris as an opera singer. She befriends a gay nightclub performer who convinces her to become a female impersonator. As a result, comedy and chaos ensues. Both the original movie and derivative stage musical starred Julie Andrews.
The stage version of Victor/Victoria was filmed for broadcast on TV in Japan shortly after it opened on Broadway. This is the version we see on this DVD.
Blake Edwards' original movie, V/V, was a delightful film musical that was just about perfect in every way. In the Broadway stage version, many of the jokes fall flat and the additional songs did not do much to further the story. The stage production was lavishly produced and every penny of it shows. The same goes for this DVD; many different camera angles are used and one feels part of the action all the time. For scene changes they freeze the action as opposed to watching the sets roll out. Julie Andrews gives the performance of her career. We should be thankful that this show was filmed as it documents for future generations one of her rare stage performances in a musical.
Tony Roberts gets to fill the big shoes of Robert Preston who gave a perfect performance in the film version. It halfway through the show before I warmed up to Mr. Roberts. He does a fine job with the role. Michael Nouri gets to play a singing King Marchan (James Garner did not sing in the film) and Rachel York give us her best Leslie Ann Warren impersonation, mimicking Miss Warren's every move and inflection. Miss York has the misfortune to sing the annoying "Paris Makes Me Horny." Both Nouri and York are very enjoyable here and do well in their roles.
The DVD has a menu that guides you to the different sections - chapter index, audio selection (Dolby digital 2.0 or 5.1), Julie Andrews biography and filmography, and an overview of the history of Victora/Victoria. Image Entertainment has done a beautiful job of transferring this video to DVD. It's one of the best transfers to DVD that I have ever seen. The picture is as crisp and as clear as can be. Andrews introduces each act as she did in the Japanese Broadcast and, during the overture, you get to see a few of the stars arrive as they did on opening night making this a very unique video.
I hope everyone supports this video release so that we may see more like it in the future.
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