If you’re the musical-theater type, you’ve probably seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat more times than you can count. It’s insanely popular, and with good reason. The songs are fun and catchy and the story is a family-friendly plot with universal themes. And the music and dancing styles— from disco to western, island reggae to rock-n-roll— literally offer something for everyone.
Based on the biblical story of the coat of many colors, the musical we know today as Joseph was the brainchild musical theater legends Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. First performed in 1970 at a private college in New York, Joseph was immediately well received and became an instant hit across the East coast college scene. It went on to become one of the most popular musicals in the U.S. and Britain. And it’s kept its momentum in theaters everywhere for more than 30 years.
But you’ll be hard pressed to have as much fun watching it as you will at Ogden’s own “The Zig.”
Being an Indie Ogden cool kid, I was lucky enough to get score row seats for Joseph at The Ziegfeld Theater, an old movie-theater turned playhouse at the top of 40th street. I’ve seen productions of Joseph nearly a half-dozen times, but I swear to you, hearing a story from the bible was never this much fun.
Within seconds of open curtain, Morgan Parry had the audience captivated as the story’s narrator. Her powerhouse voice and her dazzling stage presence kept the house engaged and propelled the story into action from beginning to end. And if I hadn’t seen the show previously, I’d have to wonder if Jason Baldwin wasn’t Joseph himself, straight from biblical times and living incarnate right here in O-town. The pureness of his facial expressions and his smooth singing voice conveyed perfectly the innocent hope of Jacob’s favorite son. These two in the show’s leading roles left me in awe of an onstage chemistry magic I haven’t seen since high-school drama class.
If the lead roles weren’t so perfectly cast, the supporting actors could have stolen the show. Brian Farnsworth as Dan, (one of Joseph’s brothers) was both hilarious and sincere in his performance of Those Canaan Days. In this scene, Joseph’s twelve brothers sing of their remorse at betraying their beloved brother in a style worthy of Les Miserables, only slightly more sarcastic. Also noteworthy was Quinn Kapetanov’s performance as a pharaoh worthy of Elvis’s shiniest jumpsuit, and Ashley Davis as the sultry and Chicago-esque Potiphar’s wife. All sarcastic pokes at pop-culture aside, the acting in this show was remarkable.
I feel I need to mention choreography, because it too had show-stealing potential. It’s been awhile since my musical theater days, but not so long that I can’t remember how acting and dancing and staying together with a group is pain to the brain (not to mention the ego.) But during this performance I watched hands and torsos and feet in perfect synchronicity and rhythm that made the combination of it all seem perfectly natural. The choreography, like the rest of the show, was near flawless.
If you’ve never seen Joseph and aren’t the religious type, don’t be shyed away by the fact that it’s has biblical origins. This ain’t your Father’s bible study. It is a story of faith, yes. But it’s also about favoritism, sibling-rivalry, revenge, justice, sarcasm, hope, forgiveness and destiny, all wrapped up in a package of music and dancing so eclectic it will have even the most serious critics singing in the shower.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the very definition of something for everyone, and the folks at Ziegfeld will wow you with their stunning performance of this timeless show. Don’t miss it!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at the Zig through late September. Click here for show times and ticket info.
The Ziegfeld Theater
3934 South Washington Blvd.