Monday, November 19, 2012

Great Modern Flair and Ensuing Hilarity: The Footlight Club Presents "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Director and Choreography: Steve Borowk
Musical Director: Shawn Gelzleichter

The Footlight Club has consistently put on strong productions.  Their most recent production, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" had their final two shows this past weekend.  Having seen this show before, I was curious to see a different interpretation.  The music of the show itself is strong, being developed by two musical theatre greats, Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is taken from a story in Genesis. The story focuses on one of the twelve sons of Jacob: Joseph. Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams, however it is soon realized that he is meant to rule over his 11 brothers.  He receives a coat from his father, marking his favoritism among his siblings. Shortly after, due to their jealousy, the brothers sell him into slavery in Egypt. He uses his skills, wits and gifts to find his way, but ends up on his own unexpected journey that takes him to places he never imagined and meets people that would change his life forever.

The show is predominantly music and singing.  Despite the little dialogue, it didn't take away from the overall story at all. The music and lyrics were catchy, smart and incredibly fun.  Shawn Gelzleichter's music direction takes full advantage of this and creates a great sound.  The energy was upbeat and it created a solid feel for the production.  Even the direction and choreography by Director Steve Borowka were very well put together.  He doesn't have major congestion going on and utilizes the space incredibly well with placement and song moments The choreography is simple and fun as well, and its not trying hard to impress us, only to add to the overall joy in the better parts of the story. Borowka also created a modern feel, but with tones of rock and roll that gave the show some nice flavor.

The cast in this production overall is very solid.  Nate Haywood's Joseph has the pipes to carry the role, but doesn't really find his bearings and level of comfort until the second act. However, that might be the issue of the story itself, especially since we don't see much growth until later.  Despite the later immersion in the role, he had a strong presence and charisma, as well as a few hints of strong comedic timing.  He clearly has fun with the role. Needless to say, once he gets his golden chariot, it is by far one of the funniest moments of the show. The Narrator, played by Madeline McCord, carried the vocal demands of the part well enough, but lacks the maturity and strength of the role. At times, it seems like she feels out of place.  Her performance had strong moments and her interaction and chemistry with everyone else was great, especially the children, but overall falls short when it comes to the character. The Children's Chorus are incredibly engaged, as are the Women's Ensemble.  Both groups have fun and they mesh together strongly in tandem.  The big winners of the night were Joseph's father and brothers.  Each didn't overwhelm or upstage each other.  They were all brilliant in their character creation and didn't go over the edge with their performances.  Many hilarious moments from them were the highlights of the production, especially during "Those Canaan Days" and "Benjamin Calypso". There were many great moments with them, but those two songs were their show-stoppers. Even when they get to play other roles throughout the show, they each gave hilarious performances. Again, the entire cast was full of energy, comedic flair, all giving fun performances across the board.

The set, lighting and costume designs were yet another strong addition to the show.  Even though the story happened in many different places, the simple usage of steps and wooden climbing area really gave the production some character.  It was a nice jungle-gym, playground feel. There didn't have to be a lot of set changes. Levels are key the design had that in spades.  The lighting design is by no means overwhelming or over the top, but really utilizes some great color that presented some really memorable and warm moments throughout. The costumes were updated to a more contemporary feel, with jeans, tee shirts and suits. Joseph's coat was a colored leather jacket which actually was a great centerpiece, considering the name of this show.  The brothers all carried colored scarves, dressed a certain way with each of their costumes, adding a nice touch and connection to the story. 

The Footlight Club does a wonderful job with "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat".  With great direction, fantastic cast and playful design, this production had a fun and warm feel to it. It had welcoming and touching vibe that solidified a strong and incredibly well put together show.  Footlight does it again, as they know their audiences love, as they create a great theatrical and adorable experience.

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