Two early Andrew Lloyd Webber shows hit local stages this season: “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” For my money, these are also the best shows he’s ever written.
San Diego Musical Theatre is first out of the block with its colorful, jaunty and fun “Joseph,” playing through Oct. 9 at San Diego Repertory Theatre.
Directed by Ron Kellum (who was in the Broadway revival), this show boasts a team of 25 actors, 18 children's choir singers and 15 musicians. It also benefits from the energetic and charming choreography of Johnny Dean Harvey and Chad Everett Allen.
It's difficult to resist this campy sendup of the Biblical story of Joseph (Eric Kunze), with its tale of favoritism, jealousy, treachery and the ultimate reunification of Jacob's clan.
Let's face it: Jacob did cause the problem with his oft-expressed favoritism of the boy -- and with the gift of that spectacular multicolored coat. Who could resist lording it over his less-favored sibs?
His brothers succumb to their baser selves, selling Joseph into slavery in Egypt and lying to Jacob that there is "One More Angel in Heaven."
A few more twists of fate and Joseph has become the Pharaoh’s right-hand man, sending his brothers to “Grovel” for help.
Originally written in 1968 as a 15-minute pop cantata for junior high-level students, the songs are bouncy, repetitive and easy to sing. Tim Rice's simple (sometimes even simple-minded) lyrics are direct, easy to understand and it’s difficult to resist singing along with them.
The song styles vary from country to calypso to French cabaret (with even a takeoff on “We Three Kings”), but the most fun is Josh Adamson’s Pharaoh-cum-Elvis, complete with pompadour, sparkly white suit, boots and shades, who sidles into the audience to bestow his scarf on an unsuspecting female patron.
This is really a group effort, but several standouts deserve mention. Eric Kunze’s Joseph is convincing as well as easy on the eyes and ears.
Zack Wolfe’s Asher impresses with his Piaf style on “Those Canaan Days.”
Shaun Tuazon's Benjamin (scapegoat for Joseph’s test of his brothers’ kindness) inspires moist eyes.
And Bethany Slomka, so good as bobbysoxer Tracy Turnblad in the Rep’s “Hairspray,” holds the show together as narrator of the tale. Slomka is a terrific singer with a high-powered voice that would easily be heard in a much larger hall than the Lyceum. For this show, however, a little tweak of the sound level on her microphone is in order.
San Diego Musical Theatre has found a fine, large group to make this show sing.
San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” plays through Oct. 9 at San Diego Repertory Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza.
Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.
For tickets call (858) 560-5740 or visit HERE.
To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.