Short & Sweet critic Ellen Ferrera reviews Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, hosted by Diana Martinez

 
By Broadway in Chicago; Video Produced by Tribeca Flashpoint Academy
Updated 3/27/2014 8:55 AM
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Short and Sweet theater critic for the day, Ellen Ferrera of Villa Park, knows a thing or two about musicals -- Ferrera is a theater major, a concert pianist, and an avid theater-goer. Going into the new Broadway in Chicago production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, Ferrera knew that a show like this relies on the music, and would need strong singers to keep the audience engaged from beginning to end. According to Ferrera, this production pulled it off with great energy and "outstanding" choreography. Ferrera was also impressed by the lighting and "minimalist" set design that was able to transport her to ancient Egypt. According to Ferrera, "it's kind of like a time warp."

'Joseph' Puts On A New Coat For The Next Generation

Review By Diana Martinez

Chances are even if you've seen the beloved musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a few times, you've never seen it like this. Directed by Andy Blankenbuehler, this new production is smart in its efforts to appeal to the sensibilities of the next generation, using video projections to provide a relevant new context to one of the oldest stories in the book.

Two American Idol finalists lead the cast, Diana DeGarmo, who plays the Narrator, and Ace Young who plays Joseph. The duo are actually married in real life, and set the tone, giving the show an almost concert-like approach to the numbers.

The set, by Daniel Brodie, is a gorgeous backdrop for the electric concert-style light show, complete with powerful and artistic video projections.The musical director Wayne Green did a fantastic job of modernizing and stylizing a new sound for this classic score. The pop vocal riffs and updated arrangements give new life to these old favorites.

It's Joseph's brothers who nearly steal the show, however. Paul Castree plays Simeon, featured in the show stopping "Those Canaan Days." He performs with such "Joie de vivre" and comic command that you could watch him all night. Brian Golub as Reuben sings "One More Angel In Heaven" with beautiful phrasing that imbues this country tune with style. Will Mann as Judah does the best set up for "Benjamin Calypso" that I've ever seen. His voice has a sincerity and an intensity that catches you off guard, with his deep warm Caribbean sound tumbling into a fun calypso number filled with reggae flourishes.

The finale is done as it should be, a departure from the biblical time period of the rest of the show and highlighting each ensemble member's strengths. The choreography is a bit drill team-esqe in places, but I suppose it is a tip to the "Glee" generation. In offering solo dance moments, the finale really shows the audience what this talented ensemble can do.

The show still has the foundation that has attracted audiences for over twenty years: a beautiful Biblical story of family and hope, and an evening the entire family can enjoy together. The score offers a variety of iconic musical genres, from '50s rock, pop, country, calypso/reggae, and gorgeous ballads complimented by high-energy ensemble numbers. The final duet by Joseph and the Narrator "Any Dream Will Do" really encapsulated the concert style approach to the show, with a new energy, filled with vocal flairs and harmonies, proving that this crowd pleaser still stands strong.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is appropriate for all ages and runs two hours, with one intermission. The show is now playing through March 30th at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. For more information, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.

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