Regional Reviews: Phoenix
The musical is based on the Old Testament bible story of Joseph and features a score that ranges from rock to country and calypso. Joseph is a dreamer whose dreams often tell the future. He has a beautiful coat that his father Jacob gave him, which makes his eleven brothers jealous. Since Joseph is Jacob's favorite son, the brothers decide to sell Joseph. They believe that this will not only get rid of him, but they also hope it will make Joseph's dream that one day he will rule over them not come true.
Lloyd Webber and Rice created this show first as an amateur school production. The show is also completely sung through, which makes some of the shifts in tone and location slightly confusing, since there is no dialogue to help bridge the gaps between some of the songs. Fortunately, Lloyd Webber's score comprises infectious musical hooks and motifs that you'll be humming for days. Rice's lyrics are full of humor, and the two big ballads, "Close Every Door" and "Any Dream Will Do," are exceptional in how succinct the lyrics are.
The production usually includes a Narrator who comments and even participates in the story. Fountain Hills has expanded this to a quartet of four narrators who take turns telling Jacob's story and at times join forces together or in duos to harmonize on their many songs.
The talented cast is led by Nick Hambruch as Joseph. His youthful looks and boyish charm combined with a strong voice and well thought out delivery of his lyrics, which are spontaneous and full of insight, make this a very winning performance. Kathleen Berger, Amy Powers, Jennifer Whiting, and Janine Smith share the narrator role and they all excel in the many moments each gets to tell and sing about Joseph's story. As the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh, Alex Gonzalez's powerful voice and charming ways make for a a crowd pleasing performance. The entire ensemble gets plenty to do, including a youth choir that director Peter J. Hill uses very effectively in many scenes. Also, Christian Aytch as Joseph's brother Judah delivers a powerful and fun calypso song that almost stops the show.
Considering this is a musical with a large cast, Hill makes good use of the small Fountain Hills stage to ensure that it never seems overcrowded, at times even bringing the ensemble out into the sides of the audience. He has found fun ways to incorporate the youth ensemble, my favorite being when they form the walls of Joseph's prison cell by holding up long rods. Noel Irick's choreography is as fun and varied as the score. Hill's set is static but bright and colorful with the use of a projection screen in the back that humorously whisks us from one location to another.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat may not be a perfect musical, but with its rousing megamix finale, which is a showstopper and sends the audience out on a huge high, it is a fun, upbeat show. The fact that it also includes lessons about jealousy and forgiveness makes it a musical that everyone can relate to. With a good cast and colorful creative elements, Fountain Hills Theater's production is an engaging, charming and completely enjoyable good time.
Fountain Hills Theater's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs through February 5th, 2017, with performances at 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd. in Fountain Hills. Information on tickets can be found at www.fhtaz.org or by calling 480-837-9661.
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber