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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Review)

Covedale presents Webber's tuneful Bible tale

By Rick Pender · April 26th, 2012 · Onstage
onstage 5-2 - joseph @ covedale - jonathan zeng, michelle wells, donnie mcgovern - photo holly yurchisonFrom left to right: Jonathan Zeng, Michelle Wells and Donnie Mcgovern - Photo: Holly Yurchison
Before Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber composed together a brief “pop cantata” based on the biblical story of Joseph and his “coat of many colors.” It was a piece to be sung by children (which it was in 1968) and subsequently recorded as a concept album (1969). After the success of Superstar, Webber expanded Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, eventually landing it in London’s West End (1974) and on Broadway (1982). The bouncy, bubbly show is stuffed with musical parodies, and it’s become a popular work receiving thousands of productions by schools and amateur theater groups. It’s nice to see it done with a bit more means and strong voices — which is what’s happening at Covedale Center in its current production.

Staged by Tim Perrino, this Joseph is a bunch of young Israeli adults exploring the Holy Land.

After a wearying climb on some ruins, they fall asleep — and Joseph (excellent tenor Jonathan Zeng has an easy, wide-eyed presence) begins to dream the familiar story, aided by a Narrator (Michelle Wells, whose voice is the most powerful in the production). Others become Joseph’s siblings and other familiar characters, including Potiphar (Tyler Gau), who enslaves young Joseph, and the Pharaoh (Donnie McGovern applies the necessary camp to the Elvis filter).

Perrino has assembled a fast-paced production that plays with the various musical styles that include Elvis-styled Rock, French ballads, Western Swing, Calypso and more. Stone walls and palms slide back to reveal a sphinx and a smoking entrance for the Pharaoh. The jaunty show covers the familiar tale in about 90 minutes, including an intermission. It’s not groundbreaking in any way, but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is another example of solid entertainment that the Covedale has presented with increasingly predictable regularity for 10 seasons.

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, presented by Cincinnati Landmark Productions at the Covedale Center, continues through May 13.Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.



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