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Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Pantages Theatre

Catchy songs make
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a fun night in the theater!
I have seen Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat about 50 times; it was one of many musical theater shows that I performed in back in high school. Unlike the songs of most of those shows, many years later, I still have Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph songs more-or-less memorized—the songs are that catchy! I was eager to hear them again as I headed to Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed and choreographed by Tony Award-Winner Andy Blankenbuehler.

This production of Joseph opens in modern times—complete with a boy in a hoodie with his MacBook. The boy, Joseph (Ace Young), is plucked from the onstage crowd and plunged into Biblical times by the show’s narrator (Diana DeGarmo). From there, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the Bible story of a boy who is spoiled by his father and develops a bit of a superiority complex. To top it off, his father gives him a special “coat of many colors.” Joseph’s jealous brothers—he has eleven of them—kidnap him and sell him off to be a slave. Things get worse for Joseph. The wife of his new boss seduces the reluctant Joseph. Joseph is caught in bed with the woman and is sent off to rot in jail. Just when Joseph thinks that his life is doomed, he discovers that he has a special talent, a talent that will earn him love and respect, even from those who once wished him dead.

From the opening note to the end, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat moves from song to song without any real spoken dialogue. The songs tell the story so well that no dialogue is necessary. DeGarmo embraces the narrator role, injecting personality into her numbers and demonstrating the singing chops that landed her on American Idol. Young seems to be holding back vocally at the beginning of the show; he sings softly and uncertainly, though pleasantly. At the end of Act One, he begins to blossom during his touching “Close Every Door.” By the time he sings “Any Dream Will Do” with his real-life wife, DeGarmo, at the end of Act Two, he unleashes his talent. Young and DeGarmo are both former American Idol contestants from different seasons. The pair met while they were working on a Broadway production of Hair and are now husband and wife. The two bring that chemistry to the stage.

The supporting cast is very able. Brian Golub, as Joseph’s brother Ruben, has some contagious country musical fun in “One More Angel in Heaven.” Ryan Williams’ Pharaoh-meets-Elvis numbers are also entertaining, although his strange blue eye makeup is distracting. Paul Castree charismatically steals the show in the creatively directed and choreographed “Those Canaan Days.” This number alone is well worth price of admission; the audience reaction was unbridled delight.

The sets are simple arrangements of plain boxes, curtains, and walls enhanced by the use of projections that make the scenes come alive. An extremely effective use of the projections is in the opening number of Act Two, “Pharaoh’s Story,” where the dancers’ wardrobe becomes mini projection screens.

The show ends with a “Joseph Megamix” where the performers trade their costumes for plain white clothes and dance and sing their way through some of the shows highlights. It feels intimate to see the actors shed their characters and let their individual personalities show. For me, this was one of the highlights of the performance.

I left the Pantages Theater—a visit to which is also worth the price of a theater ticket—with the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat songs dancing in my head, although, to be fair, they were already there before I got to the theater. As I expected, the production turned out to be a fun night in the theater that almost any musical theater fan is sure to enjoy.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat runs at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles from June 3rd through June 22nd, 2014.

Tickets to current and upcoming shows at the Pantages Theatre are available: 

Online: HollywoodPantages.com or Ticketmaster.com 
By Phone: 1-800-982-2787 
In Person: Pantages Box Office, 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (opens daily at 10am, except for holidays) and Ticketmaster Outlets

Jen (California, USA)*
* As a member of the press, Jen received two complimentary tickets to  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.