Probably one of the best known musicals in the Wasatch Front is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” It tends to be one of those guilty pleasures of music, good and enjoyable but nothing too serious, kind of like Debbie Gibson. This makes it a challenge for any production to take this show and make it their own, without “jumping the shark.” The Ziegfeld did a great job with this, incorporating elements into the show that are fresh and not overdone. By far the best element of this show was masterful Choreography by Kacee Neff. This cast has many strong dancers and Neff capitalized on this and created routines that not only, showcased the great abilities of many in the cast but was also very enjoyable to watch.
Normally when I see this show the brother’s are always a little disappointing. There are usually 2 or 3 good ones while the others just fade into the background and go through the motions. However the brothers in this production were all great both vocally and visually with well executed comedic routines and some of the best dancing I have seen in a production of Joseph. My favorite scene from them was “Those Canaan Days”; they pulled off the French feel of the scene quite well and even tastefully worked in a joke about another popular musical that takes place in France. The other big scene from the brothers is “Benjamin Calypso” while I did enjoy this, it seemed like the energy level of the brothers was running a little low in this scene which was disappointing, as they had been very energetic and entertaining all night. I hope they can find some way to keep their energy up for just one last number in future performances. However despite that, this still remains the best group of brothers I have seen in a production of Joseph. Naphtali played by Sterling Allen, Asher played by Bryan Andrews, Issachar played by Adam Aposhian, Simeon played by Chris Bell, Nebulon played by Paul Calvo, Gad played by Gatlin Chambers, Dan played by Brian Fansworth, Reuben played by Troy Hone, Levi played by Quinn Kapetanov, Benjamin played by Caden Thomas and Judah played by Devin Turner.
The first character we are introduced to is the Narrator played by Morgan Parry. It becomes obvious very quickly that Parry has impressive vocal power. During some of the higher and more demanding parts that this character has, I wished she would have had a little more vocal control. While the part was in her reach and executed well, it seemed for a few moments that she was digging deep to execute some of the lyrics and that gave some of her vocals a belting quality. I felt that she integrated well with the story and helped with the story flow. There were only two moments I found awkward and those were the opening of the curtain at the start of Act I and Act II. The Narrator does a slow hand movement as to supernaturally open the curtain, or lift the vale on the story. This would of gone from awkward to cool with a dimly lit fog filled stage behind the curtain, that would of enveloped Perry as the curtain opened. Normally when I see a member of the production staff, Morgan Parry is also the Production Manager, I usually watch the character in a little more critical manner and hope that I see something in them that justified the productions decision to cast them. Parry is a good fit for this role and she did a good job, this is a very large role for one person, often in community theater this role is divided between multiple people because it is so demanding. It is very impressive to see one person do well with this role.
In the opening scene the Narrator is singing the introduction of the story to the Children’s Chorus, I found the Children’s Chorus to be of course cute, as they always are, but I had great difficulty hearing them and I was in the fourth row. I also found their entrance and exiting from the stage and wings several times during each act to be distracting and awkwardly timed. I did like the Children singing the Entr’acte, it gave us something to watch instead of just listening to the recording, that was a nice touch.
The Narrator then introduces us to Joseph played by Jason Baldwin. The part of Joseph is also very demanding vocally and Baldwin is a very impressive singer. He has a remarkable range and equally remarkable control at the extreme ends of that range. It did sound like the low end of his range was not quite fully warmed up in the beginning of the production. Initially I thought he had difficultly in the low register as “Close Every Door” was difficult to hear in the beginning but that worry was put to rest in Act II, as his energy level seemed to come up substantially and he appeared much more comfortable with the audience. This probably relaxed him vocally and allowed him to sing easily at the lower end of his range.
Jacob and Potiphar played by Clayton Palmer are not characters I would think to mention during a review of Joseph, since they have very little stage time, but Palmer had an ability to create a connection between the audience and his characters with his smile. I could not help but laugh every time Plamer smiled as he has a grin as big and cheesy as the Cheshire Cat, which somehow made me instantly like his character and pay attention to him every time he was onstage. The one thing I would have liked to see is if there could have been more of an effort is disguise him so Jacob and Potiphar did not look so much alike. He also played one of the Ishmaelites but he was disguised with a wig and some other costume elements that I do not want to give away as the surprise adds to the comedic value.
In Act II the character that can make or break your show is the Pharaoh, played by Quinn Kapetanov. Kapetanov stole the show in my mind. He did his Elvis like singing and impersonation very tastefully and was quite funny. “Song of the King” where the Pharaoh tells Joseph about his dream was one of the best numbers of the night. Kapetanov has this ability to draw your eyes toward him, with well executed dancing and great facial expressions. I quickly picked him out of the crowd of brothers early on in the production, he also plays Levi as mentioned earlier. When I saw him being brought out as the Pharaoh asleep on his throne, I knew he was going to be great and he did not disappoint.
Director Sarah Baldwin should be very proud of this production as it puts a fresh face on Joseph and has elements in this production that makes it unique. I was also very impressed by the vocals in this production everyone sounded great, including some very nice harmonies achieved by the brothers, Music Director Heidi Hunt should be equally proud. I wish this theater could offer a bit more sound. It is a smaller theater and three speakers are enough (left, right, center channel) but it did sound a bit thin and tin-like at times. This can be easily overcome with the addition of either two side or back channels. Thank you to Lighting Designer Joshua Winkler for changing the light colors in “Joseph’s Coat,” that adds so much to the scene and it seems so obvious I am surprised that I have hardly seen it done before.
This is a great family friendly production and one that will not take up your entire evening with a running time of about 90 minutes it will leave you wanting more. Which is why I was disappointed to not see the Megamix done in this production; with this great cast, I would of like to have seen what this production could of done with it. Even with that left out, this production is deserving of a large audience and as the house lights were coming up at the end of the show I heard many people audibly say “That was great” and I agreed with them.
The Ziegfeld Theater Company’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” performs August 23 – September 28 Friday’s and Saturday’s 7:30pm then adding performances on Monday’s and Thursday’s starting September 9th with Matinee performance on Saturday September 14, 21 and 28 at 2pm at The New Ziegfeld Theater 3934 South Washington Blvd, Ogden. Tickets are $15 Adult and $12 Child/Student/Senior. Running time: Approx. 1 hour 30 minutes, 15 minute intermission.