WEST VALLEY — Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been a staple of Utah community theater for decades. Each year you can be assured of 7-10 productions of the show somewhere in Utah. And it tends to be one of those shows that is seemingly director-proof: No one seems able to truly ruin a production, no matter how hard they might seem to be trying. I’ve seen it any number of times with various attempts to spice it up, some very wrong headed, but it still seems to work out in the end. There are those who seem to despise any production of it, and that might be because of over-saturation. I tend to like Joseph in small, infrequent doses. And thankfully the current production of Joseph at Hale Centre Theater falls squarely in the fun category.
I won’t rehash the story of Joseph here. If you haven’t seen it, or read the Bible, you’ll have more fun your first time without a crib sheet version. This is a perennial favorite at Hale Centre and they bring it back every few years. Marilyn Montgomery has been either director, choreographer, or both on this production for over 20 years. She has a formula that works and entertains audiences consistently. This is a very lively, colorful show. The choreography is intense and very visual, especially on the small stage at Hale. I have to say this was my first time attending Hale Centre Theatre and I have heard much about their stage and many configurations it can achieve. They do use it with wonderful economy in this production. All the different movements of the stage fit the action and story well and do help create some wonderful stage moments, such as “Close Every Door to Me.”
Joseph, being a through-sung production with very little spoken dialogue, needs strong singers to really carry it off, and this cast exceeds the challenge. Music director Kelly DeHaan has created a very cohesive sound from the chorus of brothers and wives. The principals are also very talented singers. Angela Jeffries as the narrator has a very clear strong voice and was wonderful in her solo numbers. Casey Elliot as Joseph is also a strong soloist and certainly looks the part of Joseph, as we’ve come to expect him to look. On the night I went he did have a few pitch problems early on with some high notes, but that was remedied before intermission and the aforementioned “Close Every Door” was excellent. Also, Potiphar and Pharaoh as played by DRU were almost too over the top, but that’s what makes those roles so much fun. His facial expressions were very fun to watch.
Costumes by Jolene Ashcraft and Tamara Clayton were stunning, as you would expect, especially for the Potiphar and Pharaoh scenes. And I have to compliment Hale Centre and their sound designer, Dan Morgan, for achieving the seemingly impossible. This is the first time I have been to a show that had prerecorded music and miked actors that the sound was not painfully loud or unbalanced between music and singers. Every word was clear and understandable.
I do need to give a few humble critiques on the show, however. And most of these are all personal hang-ups and probably won’t affect any other theater-goer. I was disappointed that there was not a children’s chorus in the show. I realize that the real estate of the stage at Hale is dear, but I really missed that aspect of the show. Bringing on a few kids from the audience in the prologue was a poor substitute. Also, why do we seem to feel the need to put the long wavy wig on Joseph? Not one other person on that stage had a similar hair style, and it looks like an attempt to copy Donny Osmond. Also, while this production is fun, it seems a bit too familiar, and lacked any real “WOW” factor that would cause me to rave about it.
With those few critiques, I must say that it is a fun show, and a cut above the average Joseph you see in Utah. Hale knows their product and delivers a solid show with many bright spots. I do really like this show on its own merits. I think the message of forgiveness is beautifully told in this show and I always get a little chocked up at the end when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Hale has once again provided a first-class production of Joseph.
One More Ticket Giveaway!
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