In 1968, the songwriting duo of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice produced a small pop cantata. From that humble, 15-minute long beginning came what many saw as the logical follow-up to their Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera. On the weekend of April 7, the Evergreen High School Music Department presented that follow-up…Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
A musical production of the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat reinterprets the story through the lens of the psychedelic 60s. The favorite son of Jacob (portrayed by Jonah Blanchard), Joseph (Ryan Eckhardt) is blessed with vivid prophetic dreams. His brothers grow tired of his dreams of superiority, and conspire to do away with him. Unable to gather the nerve to kill him outright, Joseph is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, after which he endures a series of adventures which challenge his morality and his faith.
Joseph finds himself belonging to Potiphar (Austin Cobb), whose wife (Bailie Sutter) makes advances toward Joseph. Spurning her advances draws her ire, though, and her false accusations ultimately land Joseph behind bars. While in prison, he meets the chief butler (Addy Worline) and the chief baker (Abby Pennington). They too have experienced dreams, and after telling them to Joseph, his uncanny accuracy is remembered by the butler, whose release and reinstatement to Pharaoh’s service was predicted by Joseph. With the news that Pharaoh (Mike Pupos) was also experiencing dreams, the butler suggested putting Joseph on the case. Historians have declared that the ancient Pharaohs were the rock stars of their day, and this one lived up to the billing by detailing his dreams to Joseph as an Elvis Presley-like figure.
Joseph translates the dreams of Pharaoh as an impending famine, and Pharaoh establishes Joseph as his #2 man in all of Egypt to make preparations for the event. Caught unprepared for the famine, Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt in search of food, and find themselves unknowingly groveling at the feet of the brother they betrayed, yet recognizes them. As they fail to even recognize him, Joseph tests their integrity, first declaring them to be spies, then accusing younger brother Benjamin of theft. After pushing his brothers to the point of panic, Joseph ultimately reveals himself, and the brothers are reconciled.
As is commonplace for Webber-Rice productions, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is set to a multitude of musical genres, spanning everything from a country-western hoedown and calypso, to bubble-gum pop and rock and roll.
The roles of everyone from cast, to crew, to musicians, are in constant flux. Everyone from the Children’s Choir on up handled the quick changes incredibly well. Ryan Eckhardt turned in a superb performance, and the Elvis impersonation of Mike Pupos had the audience laughing.
To a member, the cast and crew captured the storyline of the script without flaw, but more importantly, they delivered the production in a manner true to its 1968 psychedelic origins, an impressive feat considering the fact that most of the actors were born 30 years after the first incarnation of the play. The Evergreen production deserved a longer run than just two days…it was that good.
© 2017, Tim Kays. All rights reserved.