Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Theatre Under the Stars
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
Directed by Shel Piercy;
Music Director Kevin Michael Cripps;
Choreographer Keri Minty
Theatre Under the Stars,
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park
Alternating nights to August 20th, 2010
Vancouver, BC. TUTS could not have asked for a more perfect evening to open their 2010 season. The evening air was warm, and the strong winds that blew through Vancouver yesterday had moved on to bluster across another part of the province. This year TUTS have instituted reserved seating throughout, a move that seemed to be appreciated by all.
We arrived early, after enjoying a delicious meal at the Tapastree restaurant just off Denman Street, and sat down to enjoy the lively pre-show music.
The season opener was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by the team of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, based on the story of Joseph from the old testament Book of Genesis. In keeping with the 1968 origin of this work as a fifteen minute performance piece for the music department of an high school project Director Piercy has changed the narrator function into an interactive communication between a group of children and a tribe of "flower children".
Set in an old theatre, eleven children are arguing about acting out the story of Joseph. The game is just about to fall apart because there is no one to play the 12th brother, when a tribe of hippies come in and get involved.
And bingo- a 12th "brother" appears - selected from among children in the audience who volunteer to take part.
Together these two groups tell the story of a dreamer, Joseph, youngest and favorite son of Jacob. Although I have seen this show several times, I have to say that I found the story a little complicated to follow in this production so for those of you who don't know the story here it is.
When Joe's father gives him the multi-coloured coat, his jealous older brothers plot to kill him, but instead sell him to a passing tribe who take him to Egypt where he becomes the slave of a wealthy man, Potiphar. Meanwhile back home, his brothers tell Jacob that Joseph has been killed and show his blood-smeared coat as proof.
Over time Joseph beomes the chief overseer of Potiphar's household, but when Potiphar's wife tries to seduce him, although he rejects her, he lands in jail. He interprets the dreams of his two cell mates, former servants of the Pharoah.
The Pharaoh is having dreams that no-one can interpret. One of Joseph's cellmates, now freed, tells Pharaoh about Joseph and his dream interpretation skills. Pharaoh summons Joseph and tells him his dream involving seven fat cows, seven skinny cows, seven healthy ears of corn, and seven dead ears of corn. Joseph warns of an impending famine. Pharaoh frees Joseph and he becomes the most powerful man in Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh.
Back home, the famine has caught up with Joseph's brothers, who hear there is still food in Egypt and decide to head there to beg to be fed. Joseph gives them food and sends them away after secretly hiding a golden cup in Benjamin's sack. As the brothers try to leave, Joseph stops them, asking about the "stolen cup". Each brother empties his sack, and it appears that Benjamin has the cup. Joseph then accuses Benjamin of robbery but the other brothers beg for mercy for Benjamin asking that Benjamin be set free and volunteering themselves as prisoners. Seeing the decent side of their natures, Joseph tells them who he really is. He sends for his father and they are reunited.
This production features a cast of young performers, too numerous to single out by name. Other than that Joseph or Joe is played by Erik Ioannidis, with loads of youthful energy and vitality. Piercy has really made this into a show that is delightful and suitable for children to enjoy. For the lucky young volunteer who gets the chance to appear on stage it will probably hook them for life into the world of theatre.
Take your kids and grand-kids. They will love it. I wish my grand-daughter was in town. I would go again just to watch her enjoy it.
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