The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Organization Roseville Theatre Arts Academy
Date(s) of show July 17-25, 2015
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review On my way out the door to see the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my wife said, “You’ve seen this show twice before. Why would you see it again?” There are many answers to that question. First, each production is its own work of art in terms of costumes, staging, choreography, props, etc. Then there are the strengths of the individual performers. Then there is the show itself with its fun music and clever lyrics. Let’s take a closer look at all those reasons for seeing this show — in reverse order.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat evolved into its current form in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as one of the earliest collaborations between composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. It’s essentially an opera in that there is very little spoken dialog in this fast-paced telling of the story of the Biblical Joseph. Many of the songs reflect the rock music style of the 1960s, with an occasional ballad, such as the memorable “Any Dream Will Do.” It’s good music from a talented composer, and the lyrics are witty and often laugh-out-loud funny. Highlighting the musical score are the several numbers that are parodies of specific musical styles: cowboy ballads in “One More Angel in Heaven,” French cabaret songs in “Those Canaan Days,” Elvis Presley-style rock-‘n-roll in “Song of the King,” and calypso in the “Benjamin Calypso.” In this production, each of these numbers was played for maximum comic effect with costumes and choreography.

The cast consisted of about 50 kids, ages 10 to 19, and the good time they were obviously having in performing carried over to us in the audience. Amanda Duisenberg was a poised and expressive Narrator. It’s a part that requires an excellent singer, and Amanda, with a classical-quality voice (when needed) was certainly up to the challenge. I thought Jake Romero was a perfect Joseph, too. His singing was consistently strong, and he excelled in all the acting (and comic-acting) demanded by his part. The whole cast did well in their ensemble singing, but I have to single out the 11 brothers for their performance in those parody songs. By and large it was over-acting, but hilarious over-acting. They (and the wives) danced and sang like cowboys in “One More Angel in Heaven” (with cowboy hats). They took us to the Caribbean with the “Benjamin Calypso” wearing fruity headgear (à la Carmen Miranda for anyone old enough to appreciate that reference). But it was “Those Canaan Days” that especially stood out for me. The brothers entered wearing berets and mustaches — and over-acted shamelessly. Jake Young as Reuben led this song, and with an enormous outpouring of energy, he gave a show-stopping performance.

The work of the production team was, of course, key to the success of this show, and was mostly responsible for my being glad I saw it for the third time. Jennifer Vaughn led the 6-piece pit orchestra that sounded like a much larger group and that provided such solid backing for the singers — for all of whom Jennifer was also the vocal director. Multi-talented Christi Axelson came up with wonderfully creative (and funny) choreography, and I thought that the dancing in “One More Angel in Heaven,” in “Go Go Go Joseph,” and in “Song of the King” were especially entertaining. Then there is director, Adrienne Dritz Mars, who brought this fast-moving opera into a coherent whole. Anf I’m guessing that she is responsible for the wonderful touches that made this production unique. There were many, many moments when surprises that couldn’t have been in the original script made me laugh out loud. But I won’t enumerate them because I don’t want to spoil your surprise when you see the show.

So I’m glad I saw this show because there was so much to like about the individual actors and singers, the choreography, the staging, etc. But Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is itself a delight, with 90 minutes of memorable music and witty lyrics. So if another company stages it in our area, I’ll go see it. But it would be hard for them to mount as delightful a production as is currently running at the Roseville Theatre under the sponsorship of the Roseville Theatre Arts Academy.

 Reviews Home    Organizations    Shows