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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"
Stage West Calgary

(photo courtesy Stage West Calgary) 

The Wednesday Morning “Somebody-Asked-Me-To, So-Here-I-Go” Entertainment Review: 

Stage West Calgary’s Production of “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”...

(or, The Early Review - official Calgary Herald review to follow!)

I will confess right up front that I wasn’t all that familiar with this enduringly popular piece of musical theatre. I only knew that 70‘s pop star Donny Osmond had a successful revival run with it, and that it may have been based on a Dolly Parton song.

Turns out it’s so much more - a Bible-based morality parable touching on jealousy, overcoming adversity, redemption, and a compelling lesson in how to squeeze the largest cast I’ve ever seen onto a medium-sized stage.

To director and choreographer Liz Gilroy’s credit, the seamless shifts between scenes with so many people onstage is almost another Biblical miracle. The cast by itself is super-sized, but add in the children that form the rapt recipients of the narrator’s telling of the tale (as it literally unfolds on stage), and you have some massive traffic control concerns when Egyptian  maidens are shimmying to a 60’s rock groove...

Of all the productions I’ve seen here at Stage West over the years, this may have been about the tightest group yet. The gang of about a dozen brothers of Joseph were flawless in their vocals, no matter what style they were singing - and there are many musical styles in this early Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber effort - almost as many styles as Joseph’s coat has...technicolors...

I will further confess to being a sucker for choirs, even if they are pint-sized. The children’s choir for this production enthusiastically jumped in when their roles required it, and sat patiently for those sections as observers.

I also really enjoyed the nicely assigned set pieces. I don’t know why images of Egypt make me think of Las Vegas casinos, but the costumes, set and props here worked well to set the stage.

A few times the band drowned out the actors, but overall there were moments for many to shine. As I mentioned earlier, this cast has an abundance of strength in the vocal department.

I do wonder if morality tales have lost a bit of their edge for a generation that learns their life lessons from reality TV competitions. Even though you knew the finale was unfolding, and forgiveness and redemption were imminent, I personally didn’t feel any emotion over the ending. Do we need to update our parables to have Jeff Probst extinguishing a tiki torch? Time will tell.

You know, as for the creators of this show (Rice/Webber), if they stick with this line of work, they could have a career in musical theatre - some of those songs are downright catchy!.

As for “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” - great music, sparkly costumes, and a wealth of talent - all in all, great seasonal fare!

I’ll be submitting my official Calgary Herald review, and will post a link here when that runs. Also check back for my interview with the director and “Joseph”, actor David Cotton.  

Chow for now!!


Mrs That Dan Guy said...

Yes indeed, a great show. I too felt moments when the band drowned out the vocals and I didn't feel the "story" as much as I did just good entertainment and fine singing, but very enjoyable just the same. A great night out!

ThatDanGuy said...

Why, thank you, kind stranger....