Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the one Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I don’t mind seeing again. Webber always comes up with good tunes. In Joseph, the tunes are unpretentious and frankly pastiche. Webber and Tim Rice, his book and lyrics writer, have fun playing around with popular music styles. I confess I have no idea why the lament for the reputedly dead Joseph should draw on the country and western tradition, but it easily changes from a dirge to a celebration when Papa Jacob leaves and Joseph’s jealous brothers can express their true feelings. I certainly see no reason for those brothers to be on Paris’s Left Bank when they lament the famine that has overtaken them in Canaan. And I can’t imagine anything less appropriate than a spritely calypso when youngest brother Benjamin is framed for the theft of a valuable cup. I just enjoy the music and the performances and the opportunities the numbers offer clever directors and choreographers and designers to follow the lead of Lloyd Webber and Rice and embroider wittily on the material.
The Muny production a decade ago did indeed do that embroidering cleverly and wittily by using design elements from our time, like the Schnucks-style lettering for the sign on the “Joseph and Sons” enterprise. It was a lot of fun, picking up the references in the design just as we do in the music.
The current Muny production takes the reverse approach. Scenic designer Edward E. Hayes, Jr., costume designer Leon Dobkowski, lighting designer Jason Lyons, sound designers John Shivers and David Patridge, video designer Greg Emetaz, and wig designer Kelley Jordan drew on ancient Egyptian design elements, which sometimes become transformed to something neon or even psychedelic when placed in pixels.
Music director Charlie Alterman, director and choreographer Josh Rhodes, and the Muny cast made it all work. As Narrator, Jessica Vosk was maternal as she gathered the youngest performers about her to tell the story of Joseph, and more come-hither as she invited the adults in the cast and the audience to join her. Jason Gotay’s Joseph had a powerful voice and a charming innocence as he went from bad to best. Eric Jordan Young got to mourn as his father Jacob and to be outraged as Potiphar by Marissa Levesque as his unfaithful wife. Mykal Gilgore’s Pharaoh got a double crown and an r and b soul number.
Great performances fill the Muny stage now – all Joseph’s sons, their women, the straying Z-Top Members buying Joseph, all the ensemble members and hard-working youth ensemble and the children’s choir who thrilled to Jessica Vosk’s telling of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. With pleasant weather forecast. no place is better to be than The Muny and this production.
Photo by Phillip Hamer