The New Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
The family-favorite undergoes a sort of makeover for a dramatically different presentation
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WHAT do you get when you take a story from the book of Genesis and mix it with the bright lights and high energy of Las Vegas? At Drury Lane Theatre through March 25 you’ll get the reimaged version of the long-running, Tony Award-winning Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, first produced on Broadway in 1982.
With the Vegas setting, it’s a tipoff that this is not your grandparents’ Joseph, not the same family-friendly show that Donny Osmond made so famous years ago when he starred in the production that represents the first collaboration between Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Alan Souza (who also directed Drury Lane’s 2014 production of Camelot), the updated Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is decidedly more adult, with strippers, showgirls, men in drag and the alluring Mrs. Potiphar. But the original theme remains in the musical that tells the story about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son, his 11 brothers and the Coat of Many Colors, given to Joseph by his father and created a rift among his brothers.
In the Drury Lane show that blends pop music, country, rock and more, the familiar songs are still highlighted (“Those Canaan Days,” “Any Dream Will Do,” “Jacob and Sons,” “Close Every Door,” “Go, Go, Go Joseph”). The cast is led by Evan Alexander Smith as Joseph, whose night in his room at the Luxor Hotel is repeatedly interrupted by Vegas-style song-and-dance productions that are the center of his dream. (There’s even a brief appearance by Elvis.) All the while, much of the focus is on Christina Bianco, a tiny, dynamic woman who is hugely talented. It is Bianco, as the narrator, who commands the spotlight, transforming into multiple Las Vegas mainstays, including Cher, Wayne Newton, Britney Spears, Bette Midler, Celine Dion, Liza Minnelli and many others.
With Smith and Bianco leading the way, the show is appreciably enhanced by featured actors Colte Julian (Jacob), E. Clayton Cornelious (Judah), Nick Cosgrove (Levi), Paul-Jordan Jansen (Rueben), Darcy Jo Wood, Lexis Danca (Mrs. Potiphar), and an exceptional ensemble cast that includes Anthony Avino, Nathaniel Braga, Tony Carter, Jed Feder, Nathan Fister, Alejandro Fonseca, Brad Giovanine, Rachel Hafell, Julia Klavans, Kevin Nietzel, Nich O’Neil, Lindsay Loretta Prerost, Cara Salerno, James Monroe Števko, and Anthony Sullivan Jr.
Aside from the acting and singing, the choreography by Grady M. Bowman (My Fair Lady, Grease, Beauty and the Beast) is splendid, performed to perfection by an ensemble that includes the talented brothers, and the energetic and leggy showgirls.
With this new presentation, Joseph continues to be an entertaining vehicle for many observers, but––as has been the case for other popular productions––some theatergoers are more comfortable with the original version. However, it appeared that those at Drury Lane totally embraced the current update. Before the final bows during the grand finale, director Bowman gives the audience just a little bit more of Bianco who offers some additional amusing impressions of some of entertainment’s biggest stars, including Barbra Streisand, Gwen Stefani, Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera, Judy Garland, Idina Menzel, Bernadette Peters, Kelly Clarkson, Shirley Bassey, Shakira, Julie Andrews, Alanis Morisette, Edith Piaf, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and more.
Delighted audience members stood in appreciation, applauding and yelling their approval until the curtain finally closed.
For more information and tickets, go to www.drurylanetheatre.com. The production schedule is as follows: Wednesdays, 1:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Fridays, 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays, 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Single tickets: $47 - $62; Wednesday and Thursday matinees, $47; Thursday and Sunday evenings, $57; Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees, $62. Student group tickets start at $12; senior citizens’ tickets start at $40 for matinees. Dinner and show packages are available.
Christina Bianco (top) and Evan Alexander Smith in a scene from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Drury Lane Theatre.
Photograph by Brett Beiner
In the updated play, Jacob (Colte Jullian, center left) gets news from Reuben (Paul-Jordan Jansen) about Israel's favorite son Joseph (Evan Alexander Smith), hiding under the table. At bottom, the cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat gather for a photograph on opening night.