Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Reagle Music Theatre’s first summer musical of their 49th season is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, the biblical story of Jacob and his 12 sons. It is a spectacular presentation and stars country star Ayla Brown as the Narrator and IRNE nominee Peter Mill as Joseph. It was written in 1968 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as a 15 minute cantata, this now two hour show is high energy from start to finish. The storyline is told by a narrator who interacts with her fellow performers at various times in the show. Joseph has prophetic dreams and is the most loved son of his doting father, Jacob who gives him a coat of many colors. It is a story about this boy with dream interpretation whose 11 brothers become jealous of him. They especially don’t like his prophecies and his splendid coat and sell him into slavery in Egypt. There Joseph rises from house slave to become Pharaoh’s second in command because of his gift for interpreting dreams. Director and choreographer Susan Chebookjian and music director Dan Rodriguez have all the necessary ingredients to make this high energy blockbuster musical one of the must see shows of this season.
Susan takes this story and creates many picture postcard scenes along the way. She combines shtick and pathos together excellently for the audiences to savor and enjoy. Susan dance’s are also breathtaking and include hoe down, tango, the ballet, the swim, the conga line and the rock and roll dances of the 1960’s. The numbers stop the show with sustained applause. Dan taught the cast the many different styles of songs to the cast with the harmonies soaring in them. He also conducts a marvelous 17 piece orchestra. The scenic design of the show by Peter Calao and Richard Schreiber is astounding and the costumes by Goodspeed Musicals are splendid including some colorful outfits for “Go, Go Joseph.” Stage manager Nicky Carbone keeps things moving smoothly all night long, making it flow seamlessly from one scene to the next.
The most important part of this show are the two leads. The Narrator is played by beautiful and statuesque, Ayla Brown. She has a fantastic soprano voice which soars in all her numbers including the Prologue, “Poor, Poor, Joseph” and “Go, Go Joseph.” She weaves her way in and out of the numbers with the rest of the cast beautifully. Ayla can not only belt some of the songs but sings sweetly on her softer ones, too. She interacts with the superb children’s chorus who join in on several numbers during the show. Ayla has grown into a seasoned actress and vocalist since I last saw her do this role back in 2008. She is a dynamic performer and makes this role her own. Her talented partner in the show is Peter Mill as Joseph. He was for the IRNE award for Mary Sunshine in “Chicago.” He has a fabulous tenor voice whether he is singing softly in “Any Dream Will Do” or with deep feeling and emotion in “Close Every Door” where his voice soars off the charts, sending chills up your spine with its poignancy. Peter’s interactions with other cast members is terrific whether is he is speaking with his brothers, father, Pharaoh and the rest. The warm relationship between Joseph and Jacob comes through dramatically in the reunion scene with Peter singing “Any Dream Will Do” in the arms of his father. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after this scene.These two strong leads set the bar high for the rest of the cast to live up to which they do in spades.
The other 11 brothers have oodles of talent, too. They shine in their singing and dancing prowess. The standout solos include the country western song “One More Angel” sung slowly and sadly to Jacob and then with wild abandon by Bernie Baldassaro in his lilting tenor voice, the Benjamin Calypso is sung by Taavon Gamble another powerful tenor, and another voice that soars off the charts is Jacob Sherburne who sings the French type song, “Those Canaan Days.” Jacob and his wife are expecting their first baby in July. The other talented brothers include Chris Scott who also plays the butler, Anthony Gervais who also plays the baker, Christopher Infantino, Adam Winer, Louis Brogna, AJ Manuel Lucero, Leo Galletto and Jack Dwyer. Another stunning performer is Andrew Giordano as the Pharaoh. He plays the part perfectly making the girls faint at his feet. Andrew’s Elvis impersonation is fabulous and his diction is perfect, ensuring you understand every line of the “Song of the King.” Jacob is excellently played by Rick Sherbourne with a great deal of warmth and feeling. He also plays Potiphar while Joy Clark plays his slutty wife where the women are dressed in 1920’s garb and dance the Charleston during the number where she seduces Joseph. The women have more to do in this new version of the show where they sing and dance up a storm. The Mega Mix is where the energetic cast reprises most of the songs from the show brilliantly. So go, go see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Reagle Music Theatre to lift your spirits up during the 49th anniversary of this theatre that brings Broadway close to home. Run do not walk to the box office. Tell them Tony sent you.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT (8 to 18 June)
Reagle Music Theatre, 617 Robinson St, Waltham, MA
1(781)891-5600 or www.reaglemusictheatre.org