“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a colorful, energetic musical, opened the 2015-16 Encore Series to an enthusiastic packed house Tuesday evening at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The show brought dynamic music and choreography together with vivid lighting, stage design and costumes.
“Joseph” is the old testament story of a favored son. When his father gave Joseph an amazing coat of many colors, Joseph’s 11 brothers became incensed with jealousy and sold him as a slave to some passing Ishmaelites. The prophesying Joseph overcame dark days of slavery and imprisonment to became Pharaoh’s advisor. As the story builds to its climax, Joseph was faced with the opportunity to return the evil he experienced at his brothers’ hands with good.
The entire cast was impressive, as they showcased their vocal and dance talents in a variety of genres. With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, songs ranged from the cowboy ballad “One More Angel” to “Benjamin Calypso.” The French bistro-inspired tune, “Those Canaan Days,” choreographed with silver plates and cups, was definitely a crowd-pleaser.
Since I first heard the music of “Joseph” in the 1970s, the song “Any Dream Will Do” has been a favorite. It’s got a sweet, sort of schmaltzy quality that really resonates with me. Joseph, played by JC McCann, and the narrator, Laura Helm, performed the duet perfectly.
McCann brought a powerful stage presence and great musical talent to the role of Joseph, and I’m not going to lie to you, he was very nice to look at for two hours. Joined by Helm, whose vibrant voice and seamless movements tied the storyline together, the duo was equally at home performing lilting lyrical numbers and then throwing themselves into comedic plot spins.
Staging, at times dark and forboding, gave way to colorful flashing lights, and led the audience on a roller coaster of emotion. Particularly fantastical was the morphing of set design, lighting and costuming, as a chorus of women dressed in white draping fabrics were used as projection screens for dream-inspired graphics.
But looking beyond the show’s elaborate sets, rich orchestration and talented actors, I was entirely struck Tuesday night that the show wasn’t just a great musical, it was a great message: A not-so-subtle reminder that forgiveness has the power to transcend human frailty.
Dawne Leiker is a frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.