Monday, March 29, 2010

REVIEW: "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Audiences will get a kick out of the Manatee Players’ “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” — a witty Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that’s guaranteed to entertain.

The lively cast is a treat to watch as they dance and sing up a storm.

Directed and choreographed by Dewayne Barrett, “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” takes you on the Biblical adventure of Joseph (Tom Westlake). Joseph is the favored son of Jacob, and comes from a family of 11 brothers who are jealous of him. So jealous, in fact, that they sell him into slavery. Taken to Egypt, Joseph goes through several ordeals, including getting thrown in jail. But all the while, good favor seems to shine down on him — especially with his ability to interpret dreams.

But in Webber’s musical world and a few extra modern touches from Barrett, this familiar tale is told with twist. There’s an assortment of music, from country to pop; a narrator (Channing Weir); a colorful children’s choir and things such as Biblical characters sporting sunglasses, tennis shoes and hippie fashions.

In word, this show is fun.

Westlake has the nice, strong voice that’s required for Joseph and plays his role with the innocence needed for the character. Weir is standout as the narrator. Her stunning voice shows a range of delicacy and power that gives the production flair. Speaking of flair, an ambitious children’s choir provided plenty of that during the opening night performance. Almost every choir member was full of energy and a delight to watch — particularly young Amanda Lade, who poured her shining spirit into literally each and every song.

Another standout was Mark Netherly, who was quite entertaining as the Pharaoh with an Elvis vibe.

Joseph’s brothers also presented a wide range of talents through song and great dance moves. When it came to dance, Ryan Hart, who played Napthali, and Calvin Farlas, who played young Benjamin, wowed the audience with their footwork. Taso Zouroudis, as Dan; Eldred Brown as Ruben and the rest of the brothers delivered great vocals in numbers such as “Go Go Go Joseph,” “Canaan Days” and “Benjamin Calypso.”

There were times in the first act, though, when it was a little hard to hear the actors over the music. Though this was remedied by the end of Act I. And while the first part of this fast-paced show was performed solidly, Act II had more charm.

Georgina Willmott, provided stunning, authentic-looking costumes while William Booth provided a nice and simplistic set design for the performance.

Enjoyable all around, audiences will adore “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

- January Holmes

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