Previous productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” didn’t seem as fun or entertaining as the current incarnation, now in an open run at the Royal George Theatre.
Granted, this staging of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is much scaled down from the 1993 production starring Donny Osmond at the Chicago Theatre. But this version–the first non-touring commercial production to be granted rights for use of updated material–has a good time interpreting Lloyd Webber’s kitsch.
Joseph is the favored son of Jacob, who lavishes praise, cushy chores and adoration on his dewy-eyed child. When he presents Joseph with an amazing technicolor dreamcoat, Jacob’s 11 other jealous sons decide their lives would be better without Joseph.
Who would blame them? Joseph is so sweetly annoying at the start that I wanted to snatch the coat off him, too.
After his brothers sell him into slavery, the plucky Joseph manages to land on his feet, no matter what calamity awaits him. His master Potiphar likes him. Maybe it’s because he looks so darned cute in his white loincloth or because he sings like an angel. But it’s most probably because he’s a hard-working little brown-noser who just won’t give up.
Unfortunately, vampy Mrs. Potiphar desires him, too, and won’t take no for an answer. When her queeny husband catches her chasing Joseph, he has him arrested and put in solitary confinement.
Just when Joseph is about to give up, he is asked by the Pharaoh’s butler and cook to interpret their dreams. Word gets back to the Pharaoh that Joseph is the Miss Cleo of his time and our hapless lad once again is promoted.
In the lead role, Brian Lane Green does a fine job. A brave actor, who performs most of the show with only his naughty bits covered, he exudes “golly gee-whiz” optimism.
Lance Zitron is a scene stealer as the blue-suede-shoes-wearing, rock-star-like Pharaoh. Not surprisingly, Zitron hails from Memphis. He has the King’s look, moves and sound down pat. The young children in attendance at the performance I attended shrieked with joy every time he opened his mouth.
Some of the best vocal performances in “Joseph” come courtesy of the Chicago Children’s Choir. Sitting onstage for a good portion of the music, the kids didn’t once miss a cue. It was also priceless to watch their spontaneous reactions to the drama onstage.
Ultimately, “Joseph” is a parable in which good overcomes evil. This is not an earth-shattering play, it’s an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.