OGDEN — I joined Utah Theatre Bloggers in 2011, and in that time, this is now my fifth review of a production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, while the blog’s archives contain reviews for a total of 18 prior productions. A Utah favorite, it is not summer in Utah until someone you know is in a production of Joseph. Terrace Plaza Playhouse has decided to bring this production to life with the help of director Jacci Florence. The well-known story (with catchy music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice) follows the family of Jacob of Israel in the Old Testament, in particular his favorite, gifted, and dream interpreting son Joseph.
When first walking into the Terrace theater, I was greeted with an elaborately colorful set, designed by Dennis Ferrin. The stage consists of a few simple platforms, but the rainbow colors and the clouds lining the sky and the sparkles in the sky added to a very nice ambiance for the production. In addition to the set design and found a lot of creative choices were made with props. There is not a prop master listed in the program, but from the ears of corn to the sunglasses to the use of hats and other items matching the musical numbers, the prop choices added to the story in a strong fashion.
Costuming Joseph could be a costumer’s best dream or worst nightmare. Because each of the songs is written in a different genre, costumers can be quite creative in their execution of design, and the Terrace team is no different. The program lists at least 16 people involved in costume design for this production, too many to name. However, their efforts paid off in providing fun and colorful looks from ancient Egypt to a disco party. I really liked the mix of colors and the way they worked with the set and lighting to provide good visuals. Of course, the highlight of costuming is the coat Joseph is given, and the first coat is credited to Shawnee Fausett and the second to Penny Hepworth, both of which were visually stunning.
Overall, this production of Joseph was like most of the other productions I have seen. Dave Clegg played a solid Joseph, though his voice did crack slightly in some songs. As is common with big casts, there were two narrators, Stephanie Petersen and Whitney Cahoon, who had nice blend and chemistry with one another. However, the danger of casting two performers in one role is that there will be obvious comparisons, and I found myself far more drawn to the performance of Petersen and her charismatic way of interacting with the cast.
Another standout in this production was Sheldon Cheshire in the role of Pharaoh. The reason I commend Cheshire is that usually the role of Pharaoh focuses so much on sounding like Elvis that the audience loses a bit of the story and the clever lyrics due to the mumbled performances. With Cheshire, I understood every word, and yet he still had and Elvis quality and strong vocal. I was surprised to discover lyrics that I had misinterpreted for years suddenly come clear to me.
The best part of the production was the children’s chorus. While this is a standard in many Joseph productions, Florence decided to incorporate the children more into the show than is usual. This must be very fun for the kids and (I am sure) for their parents. That choice could have backfired if the children did not add much to the performance, but these kids were on point with singing and dancing and were quite delightful to watch.
For fans of Joseph, the Terrace Plaza production will not disappoint. The vocals and acting are strong, the costuming, set, and props are colorful and entertaining, and the cast looks like they are having a grand time.
Donate to Utah Theatre Bloggers Association today and help support theatre criticism in Utah. Our staff work hard to be an independent voice in our arts community. Currently, our goal is to pay our reviewers and editors. UTBA is a non-profit organization, and your donation is fully tax deductible.