Reviewed by Tom Jones
November 26, 2023
The narrators singingly open the story with “Jacob lived in the land of Canan many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began …a fine example of a family man.” He has twelve sons, with the latest one, Joseph, being his favorite. Jacob provides Joseph with a fancy new coat, and when Joseph puts it on, he flaunts his place in the family singing, “I look handsome, I look smart. I am a walking work of art.” This doesn’t rest well with his 11 peers. Sound familiar? Yes, the story is familiar, but this telling-in-song on stage in Johnstown this season is an “amazing” evening of enormous talent, great fun, and glorious entertainment.
This production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is a continual delight from the moment the narrator begins to sing the story until the lights go out after a dancing/singing mix of the entire show. The stage is ablaze with color, the air is enlightened with clever music The audience is in continual awe as choreography has to be seen to be believed.
Part of the show’s enchantment is the inclusion of a variety of musical styles – country/western, Parisian cabaret, swinging calypso, and rock and roll disco. The sound system provides clarity to everything sung, and the orchestra is a sensation of its own.
Jalyn Courtenay Webb and Sarah Forman share the Narrator role on alternating performances. I have seen both of them in action. They are both sensational as they appear to love the story they are telling – that of an “awe-shucks” young man who looks at his life as a dream. Both have experience at the Candlelight, both with great voices. They openly seem to nourish Joseph as he goes from being the favorite son in Canaan to being a prisoner in Egypt and finally being the Pharaoh’s right- hand man later in life.
Although he has every right to become ostentatious and an ego-maniac, Caleb Wenger portrays Joseph as a somewhat low key young man who subsequently realizes his potential and becomes successful. Wenger’s voice is very good as the dreamer whose dreams come true.
While Joseph and the Narrator are the show’s leads, the supporting cast is brilliant on their own. Many are familiar to Candlelight audiences, including Ryne Haldeman who delights the audience in three different roles—Jacob, Potiphar, and the Baker. He is in fine voice and clever in every role and in every costume.
Chas Lederer is a winner as one of the sons, Levi, who delightfully tells Jacob “There is One More Angel in Heaven” in a raucous Country/Western hoe-down. Elton Tanega has all the right moves as Judah, taking the audience on a pulsating Calypso journey. Hugh Butterfield has a history of believability in a variety of roles over the years. This year he is the brother Issachar, and stepped in at the last moment to take the role of Pharaoh a few days before the show opened. He brought the house down with his Pharoah/Elvis impression.
Choreography is outstanding. The brothers’ dancing is extremely skillful. Cory Michael Klements and Jessie May Hobson are spellbinding, taking the audience to see them as French cabaret dancers.
Hobson is also an inventive Potiphar’s wife trying to seduce Joseph. Klements also portrays one of the brothers (Zebulon) and is the show’s dance captain.
Everything is in great shape for this show. Bryan Bell is the Director and shares choreography responsibilities with Matthew Dailey as Associate Choreographer. Bell is returning to Candlelight after 13 years of amazing audiences in a variety of theaters. Janice Vlachos is Music Director and conducts the excellent orchestra. Dailey wowed Candlelight audiences in “Singin’ in the Rain” and recently directed the theater’s “The Little Mermaid.” Vlachos recently retired from teaching at Boulder’s Fairview High School and has conducted music for more than 30 musicals, including “Joseph.”
Joseph’s tale has been around for centuries. Basic story comes from the Book of Genesis in the Bible’s Old Testament, verses 37-50. This musical version began as a 15-minute boy’s school cantata in England in 1968. It was the work of musician Andew Lloyd Webber and his schoolmate, lyricist Tim Rice. It took a back seat in their priorities as they gained great acclaim with the release of the concert album recording of ”Jesus Christ Superstar” in 1971. They then returned to their “Joseph” cantata, opening it in expanded version London’s West End in 1973, and the next year at the Haymarket Theatre as a full musical. It opened on Broadway in 1982 and has been a worldwide favorite for more than 40 years.
Andrew Lloyd Webber went on to further acclaim as musical composer of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Starlight Express,” “Aspects of Love,” “Evita,” “Love Never Dies,“ “Tell Me on a Sunday,” ”Whistle Down the Wind,” “The Beautiful Game ”and more!
There is even a talking camel! Joseph will be wearing his technicolor dreamcoat through January 28, 2024. Tickets will be difficult to obtain for this heartwarming spectacle.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
To January 26, 2024
Candlelight Dinner Playhouse
Johnstown, CO 80534
Box Office 970/744-3747