By Zac Franzen
Another one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s great works, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat comes to life on the Lincoln Community Playhouse stage. This classic, well-known musical rendition, directed by Morrie Enders, will have you toe-tapping and grooving to the beat!
For those non-musical theatre lovers who don’t know the tale of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, the musical follows the Old Testament story of Joseph, a young man from the village of Canaan. Potiphar and his wife create a grand multicolored coat for Joseph, who is the favorite child of twelve sons in Joseph’s father’s eyes. The constant praise given to Joseph by his father, along with the treasured coat, fill the remaining brothers with jealousy, ultimately turning them against Joseph and selling him into slavery. This sets off a chain of events that takes Joseph on a path directly to the pharaoh himself. One other tiny detail I forgot to mention, Joseph is able to read dreams. Although more of a dark tale in the Bible, the energetic and upbeat lyrics written by Tim Rice spin the story into a merry and delightful musical.
This story of Joseph is told through the eyes of the Narrator, played by Annaliese Saathoff. From the moment she takes the stage, you are instantly captivated by her musical delivery and effortlessly become engulfed in the story she starts to tell. As if her vocal skills were not enough, Saathoff brings so much to the role of simple storytelling with her emotional delivery and fluent physicality. As a character who is not included in the story of Joseph, Annaliese separates herself from the rest of the cast, providing subtle interactions to the audience, making it feel like she’s telling the story directly to you.
The starring role of this story, Joseph, is played by Jacob Vanderford. Jacob’s positive demeanor, along with his innocent and chipper outlook, make him a seemingly perfect fit for this role. If his portrayal of Joseph isn’t enough to convince you, his voice sure will. While Vanderford was performing the song “Close Every Door,” I found myself stooped on the edge of my seat, captivated by the range and control of his vocal delivery. As he sang from the jail cell where he’s been unjustly placed, the power and emotion in his voice completely nailed the song for me.
The characters of Joseph and the Narrator are crucial to the story line, and Vanderford and Saathoff completely lead the show with their charismatic portrayals and the palpable chemistry that these two have with one another. That being said, this in no way diminishes the talent of the other characters in the cast. I personally loved the group of gentlemen who played Joseph’s brothers in this ensemble. The eleven different actors brought their own unique attributes to their particular characters, and I kept finding myself chuckling at their quirky dance moves and lively facial reactions. I’m sorry I couldn’t give a shout-out to each of you by name, but I wasn’t able to write fast enough when each of you introduced yourselves in song.
Aside from the skilled qualities of all the main characters, and the diverse and entertaining talents of the entire ensemble, the technical attributes of the show were equally as unique and eye-catching. The orchestration and music throughout the show was so upbeat, and really helped to set the tone and the atmosphere of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the set pieces and scene changes that were incorporated in each and every scene. Each piece was so detailed, and the vibrant colors and various levels added great depth to the story, setting the stage (pun intended) for a lively environment. I have to be completely honest, I would not have envied Klara Wilson’s job as Costume Designer for this show. She flawlessly tackled the challenge, and provided each character with their own unique and colorfully diverse costume. Choosing to use costuming and performers to play both a camel and a goat was hilarious, and added to the comedic value of the show.
Equally as colorful, was the stage lighting utilized in each scene. I absolutely loved how Joseph’s prison bars were silhouetted on stage, casting shadows as Joseph sang his emotional tune, as well as how the cactuses danced along with the performers during the song “One More Angel.”
With the silly and lively beat to many of the songs in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, you have to have choreography that matches, and they did not disappoint in this regard. The choreography was fun and energetic, and far from a simplistic approach you might expect to find in your small-town community productions. There were a few moments when I felt the actors could have been more engaged in the stage blocking to keep the tempo of the story moving fluently, but then the scene would break out into song and dance, and I was pulled right back in.
The Lincoln Community Playhouse, and the entire cast and crew of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat has done a phenomenal job with their rendition of this beloved musical. Bring the entire family to LCP, and enjoy the wonderful story this talented group has to offer.
If you go: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs May 6-22, Friday and Saturday at 7:30PM and Sundays at 2PM. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.lincolnplayhouse.com, $25 for adults and $15 for students. There is an additional Free Will Offering Performance on Thursday May 12th at 7:30PM.
Zac Franzen began his life in the arts at the age of six years old. His vast experience includes directing, teaching, and countless performances in plays, immersion theatre, poetry, and interp; his personal favorite being musical theatre. Zac is a licensed judged for the state of Nebraska in both Play Production and Speech, traveling across the state to work with students from all schools. He has numerous achievements on both the state and national level, and was accepted to attend Juilliard’s Theatre for the Performing Arts. Zac is a very passionate and engaged person who always promotes the enriching benefits the arts can give for all lives.
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