“JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT,” through Oct. 16, Tuacahn Ampitheatre, 1100 Tuacahn Drive, Ivins (435-652-3300 or tuacahn.org)
IVINS — The story of Joseph and his coat of many colors as found in the Bible takes place in Canaan and Egypt, but people need travel no farther than the Tuacahn Ampitheatre in the desert outside of St. George to experience its production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.
This “Joseph” definitely dances to its own beat apart from not only its source material but also from other productions of the musical. While other stagings swing between moods of comedy, reflection and joyousness, the pyramid here is planted firmly in the center of a humorous slapstick spectacle that keeps the laughs coming — especially for those familiar with the “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In” comedy TV series that ran from 1968-73.
Scenic designer Brad Shelton keeps the stage relatively bare throughout the production except for one pyramid permanently positioned at center stage. But with the clever use of images and animations projected onto the pyramid, it serves to great effect to illustrate locations, jokes, moods and, of course, the dreams.
Dreams are what get Joseph into hot water with his 11 brothers — or, rather, the dreams are what tip the scale after they’ve long observed their father’s favoritism toward Joseph, particularly when a beautiful multicolored coat arrives for him via a package from Amazon.com.
Annoyed by this younger brother who says his dreams indicate he will one day be above them, the brothers decide to rough him up and leave him in a pit. Then some Ishmaelites (a la “Duck Dynasty”) arrive on ATVs, and the brothers decide to sell Joseph into slavery. He’s delivered to Egypt and becomes a servant to the mob boss Potiphar.
As Joseph faces obstacles including Mrs. Potiphar, prison and 14 years of varying crop productivity, his brothers first celebrate, then contemplate and finally commiserate over what their actions have wrought. Hard times drive them to Egypt, where they receive a surprising revelation concerning their long-lost brother.
James Royce Edwards as Joseph (also currently playing the role of Prince Eric in the Tuacahn’s “Disney’s The Little Mermaid”) is handsome and charming, creating a character that the audience can sympathize with yet see exactly where the brothers are coming from.
Tony Award-winner and Grammy nominee Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller is simply lovely as the Narrator, exuding a warmth and beauty in her stage presence as she guides the audience through the changing scenes and plot. Other standouts include Trevor Dion Nicholas as Judah, Venny Carranza as Dan and Todd Dubail as Pharaoh.
Costume designer Janet Swenson has created many things of beauty, the most notable (naturally) being Joseph’s coat, but also his outfit as “Pharaoh’s No. 2,” not to mention the brothers’ and ensembles’ outfits for many of the the widely varied songs: Frenchmen in “Those Canaan Days,” go-go/disco dancers in “Go, Go, Go Joseph,” Cowboys in “One More Angel in Heaven” — the list could go-go on and on. Derryl Yeager’s choreography is also fantastic, putting both the costumes and the dancers’ ability on full display.
As previously mentioned, this production of “Joseph” strays from its flock but not in a bad way. Some of the older jokes and references might be lost on kids and younger adults, but there are enough remaining, not to mention all of the fun surprises — watch for the “tumbleweeds” — to add an extra boost of color to what is already an “amazing Technicolor” production.
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