Monday, August 17, 2015

theatre review - JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT - Valley Youth Theatre - August 14, 2015

Payton Bioletto and Nathan Sheppard
photo: Barry Smith
Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 30th.

One of the first collaborations between composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat features a mix of fun musical styles from rock to country and calypso as well as plenty of spirited, clever lyric rhymes. ...Led by a talented group of young adults and with fun direction and energetic choreography, Valley Youth Theatre's production is even better than the national tour production that was recently in town.  The family friendly musical is based on the Old Testament story of Joseph, a dreamer who has a beautiful coat his father Jacob gave him which makes his eleven brothers jealous. Since Joseph is Jacob's favorite son, the brothers decide to sell Jacob to not only get rid of him, but also to prevent Joseph's dream of ruling over them not come true. While the plot is very thin, the musical features a score with a number of infectious musical hooks and motifs by Lloyd Webber that you'll be humming for days after seeing the show...Valley Youth Theatre has assembled an impressive cast, led by Nathan Sheppard and Payton Bioletto as Joseph and the Narrator, respectively. Both not only have clear and strong vocals but also exude charm and joy as well as bring a high level of excitement to their roles. Sheppard's voice soars in his solos while Bioletto gets the chance to add a few personal touches to her many songs. Bioletto also has many moments with the large youth choir, and the ease she has with them as well as her ability to let them shine in their moments in the spotlight are true signs of a professional. In the supporting cast, Jack Rose gyrates his way through the hugely popular role of the Pharaoh, with the combination of swiveling hips and Elvis vocal style a delight. The rest of the cast, playing Joseph's eleven brothers, his father Jacob, and the many ensemble roles, all have fun with their parts.  Director Bobb Cooper has staged a flowing production with constant movement and good use of the entire Herberger stage, including the nice touch of having the children's chorus use the two second level boxes on the sides of the stage. Choreographer Lucas Coatney's exuberant, and always changing, dance routines combine seamlessly with Cooper's direction. ...Karol Cooper's costumes are excellent, featuring a non-stop parade of fun pieces, including a stellar finale "coat" for Joseph. Michael Eddy's vibrant light design is just as outstanding, with what appear to be hundreds of lights above the stage that are always changing, moving, and washing the stage in an abundance of color. ...While the plot of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is as thin as can be, the infectious melodies and youthful charm of the young cast overcome many of the shortcomings of the piece. The family-friendly production also has some lessons that anyone can benefit from hearing, along with several songs that you'll be humming for days. VYT's production has an abundance of humor, exceptional leads, and results in a fun, infectious production. -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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