Tacoma Musical Playhouse’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is fantastic. We knew it was going to be fun when Lucy, the woman sitting next to Peg in the audience, showed the photo of her granddaughter, Le’liana in the Youth Chorus and was so excited to be at the production. Luci also saw Kinky Boots where her grandson Zander Campbell Shreiner plays the young boy who decided to follow his own dream and walked off the stage in tall, red high heels. What a feat! This is a talented family. You never know who you’ll sit next to at TMP!
With lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph is based on the Joseph from the Book of Genesis. It began as a 15-minute production but expanded as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice grew more popular. It reached 35 minutes at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1972. Two years later it reached its full modern format. The musical was welcomed to Broadway in 1982. About 1972 to 1974, we and our kids saw a concert of the shortened version of Joseph at Annie Wright School on Tacoma Avenue.
The play begins with a school tour (Youth Chorus members, who stay with the show from start to finish) of a museum that is showcasing Egypt. A display shows an image of the character Joseph (Carlos Barajas), who shortly comes to life. As soon as he begins singing, we knew that we the show was in good hands. We saw him in TMP’s very successful production of In the Heights.
We read the actors’ bios in the program before the musical got underway. We saw that Richard Cubi cast as the brother Zebulon. We’ve been watching Cubi ever since seeing him in Cinderella – he had a non-speaking role but he moved very well. He also did well in the TMP production of In the Heights. Next to Cubi’s information, we saw the image of Loucas Curry (Judah) who had also performed in In the Heights. We first saw him in a Tacoma Little Theatre cabaret show performing “Searching”. He was screamingly funny and has a great voice. Both Cubi and Curry performed the songs and dances throughout Joseph and both had serious and funny moments. They both interact well with the eldest brother Ruben, played by Mauro Bozzo who was the “star” of Singing in the Rain. The three are on the top right riser.
Jacob has 12 sons. Eleven are jealous of their father’s favorite, the second youngest, Joseph. He tells his brothers that he has had some interesting dreams. One dream is of him as a sheaf of wheat and the brothers are 11 other sheaves, who bow down to him. Well, the brothers want nothing to do with this vainglorious upstart brother and decide to put him in a deep hole and leave him to die. However, the brothers decide, instead to sell him to a slaver going to Egypt. “That’ll get rid of him!” of course. They make up a story about him being killed by and animal in a song:
There’s one more angel in Heaven,
There’s one more star in the sky.
Joseph, we’ll never forget you.
It’s tough, but we’re gonna get by.”
Shedding crocodile tears, the rest of the brothers and their wives join in. Of course, the musical has a happy ending, but we are entertained, entranced and enjoying it all the way through. There are signals for great things to come.
One of the conceits of Joseph is that the action has so much humor and the cast becomes a part of a scene that’s just plain fun. In one the Pharoah is an Elvis impersonator. In another, the song is presented as a calypso, complete with mariachis and brightly colored, ruffled-sleeved shirts. The fun never ends.
It turns out that Joseph can predict the future from the meaning of dreams. He is elevated, has his chains taken off and becomes a trusted source of possibilities. My favorite song from the show is Any Dream Will Do.
The music is not only fantastic, but so is the dancing.
Narrators Elise Campello and Ceili Caruson, both with lovely voices, fill in the details from each side of the stage. Jesse Geray was great as brother Napthali and as Pharoah’s butler. Steve Barnett was one of Lola’s angels in Kinky Boots and played a tuneful brother. Steve Barnett gave us an excellent Elvis snarl as Pharoah. Christine Naficy, the queen of In the Heights, again has her dancers mesmerizing the audience as the co-choreographer and as Potiphar’s wife. Managing Director Jon Douglas Rake was joined by Music Director Jeffrey Stvrtecky who produced beautiful music.
We think that Jon is involved in every single aspect of each production. We love his easy to understand comments of welcome at each performance; however, we had to control ourselves to not have one of those characteristic special drinks while reviewing: the Joseph’s Coat and Egypt’s Elixir.
We had a marvelous time watching Joseph and playing and re-playing the songs in our heads. I liked when they sang about the coat of many colors and named the colors. It had a nice beat to it. At the finale, every single person was on the stage and they received a standing ovation. The voices and dancing were exciting and captivated us completely.
Thank you Kat Dollarhide for providing the images.
For tickets, please visit: tmp.org/index.php/showsandtickets/