Sunday, October 18, 2009

The ministry of silly musicals

I was perfectly prepared not to like the 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when I took Ma Weisenheimer to a Sunday matinee. While this Joseph is pretty near the silliest thing I've seen on stage (non-comedy category), I came away with a wry smile on my face from a pleasant afternoon of eye and ear cotton candy.

Three great points. Though the tale is based (loosely) on the Bible story, Elvis as Pharaoh (played by Billy Joe Huels) is the closest thing to God in the show; composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote quite a variety of music styles into the score, including early disco, reggae, country/western, and Rock 'n' Roll; and the production employed a large chorus of kids who were really great and seemed to be having a smashing good time. Oh, make it four points: Donny Osmond was nowhere to be found.

The audience was full of kids, too, and it's great to see young folks out at the theater. Some of them probably got a bit of an eyeful more than mom and dad expected, especially when Joseph was confronted with a stable of scantily clad Egyptian hotties when he arrived, enslaved, in that land. It's rated PG, and parents are warned about a suggestive scene with Potiphar's wife, too.

Anthony Federov sang Joseph. Federov, who placed "in the top four" on season four of American Idol, was fine as the dreamer. (But do we have to keep having these Idol folks around as transparent ticket-sales devices?) Jennifer Paz belted out her narrator tunes marvelously. Huels, of Seattle's Dusty 45s, was a treat as the King. Joseph's brothers were a great country singing and dancing troupe.

But really, the star was set designer Martin Christoffel, who came up with a wild array of gaudy, colorful sets. The coolest was the one that accompanied Elvis and included a couple of 25-foot-high, guitar-playing, graven images. The costumes, too, designed by Mark Thompson, were acid-trip colorful, save for Joseph and the narrator, who wore white. (The dreamcoat of color makes only a short, token appearance early in act one, with a cameo at the end.

My favorite number was "Go, Go, Go Joseph," which closed out the first act. Swear to God, this was an amazing technicolor ensemble doing go-go dancing straight out of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. A more colorful, strobe-lit prison cell I've never seen. The entire cast did a "megamix" reprise of the tune at the end, this time dressed in white with a bit of a hip-hop undertone.

Joseph was a lot of fun, a good entertainment for a gray Seattle Sunday afternoon.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I so did not want to see this for the very reasons you stated up front. Sounds like I missed out!