Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. There's nothing self-inflated about this early Andrew Lloyd Webber rock romp, unlike his later mega-musicals. Like a medieval mystery play, it embraces a Bible that's always in the present tense, bringing home the story of Joseph and his unfraternal brothers. Wildly ranging from country western to calypso to doo-wop, Webber's show-off score is irreverently devout.

In this playful, efficient in-the-round staging, director-choreographer Kenny Ingram delights in touches not seen in the touring productions at the Shubert and Chicago theaters. Among other anachronisms, the camels here are huge blowups of the cigarette mascots. Despite fraying bandages, three mummies provide sturdy backup to the Elvis-like pharoah (James Moye, recalling the King when he was just a prince). The hoedown of "One More Angel in Heaven" practically plows the stage, while the disco "techno dream" reprise delivers a clever homage to Stomp. Thanks to costume designer Nancy Missimi, Joseph's coat is not the only garment bursting with color.

At the show I attended, understudy Chris Jones substituted for Danny Gurwin in the lead, demonstrating a good voice if little stage presence. (Unfortunately this switch reduced the fraternity to only 11 brothers to found the Twelve Tribes.) As the feel-good narrator, Susan Moniz holds the story together with aplomb; she's sandwiched between such hams as Roger Anderson as Potiphar and Stephen P. Full as Reuben, wailing the boulevard anthem "Those Canaan Days" with pseudo-Gallic intensity.

--Lawrence Bommer

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