REVIEW: A lively ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’
About 15 minutes before curtain time Tuesday night at the Durham Performing Arts Center, one guest was greeted with a shower of colorful confetti. It was opening night of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and also DPAC’s celebration of its 2 millionth customer since it opened in late 2008. Cheryl Pettiford of Raleigh, who had also just attended two concerts in the past week, was surprised and excited as DPAC staff presented her with a giant ticket, a new seat in a balcony side box, an invitation to the cast party and $1,000 toward future DPAC shows.
The energy of the evening continued with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a colorful, energetic show laced with humor and a little bit of camp. It’s a story those who have been to Vacation Bible School or Sunday school already know – the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. As Jacob’s favorite son, he is given the fancy coat to the dismay of his 11 brothers, who throw him in a pit and sell him off into slavery, where he eventually ends up in Egypt and works his way up to being the pharaoh’s number two.
Ace Young portrays Joseph with the bright smile of a little brother – both in the production and real life. Young’s co-star is fellow “American Idol” and “Hair” alum Diana DeGarmo, who just about steals the show at the Narrator. DeGarmo’s voice is fantastic and her humor and looks to the audience – no fourth wall here – warrant a worthy spotlight. The 11 brothers also put on quite a show, with “Those Canaan Days” garnering the loudest applause during the performance, and rightly so. It’s just as much dance as song, with more humor to boot, led by Simeon, who is played by Paul Castree.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is about a half-hour shorter than touring Broadway shows the rest of the DPAC season, but that works because the momentum keeps up all the way through it. The orchestra brought their best. Aside from Joseph’s scene in jail, it’s kept light and lively. The story is resolved as it is known, with reconciliation of the family.
Fans of DeGarmo and Young from their respective seasons as “American Idol” contestants – and Young’s on-stage proposal to DeGarmo during an “AI” show two years ago -- will likely take note of their physical interactions even when they don’t look at each other on stage.
Created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as a pop cantata and then concept album in the late 1960s, it was performed in London in the 1970s before going to Broadway for the first time in 1982. It has the rainbow cheery elements of ’70s pop culture, songs from various genres including country, clogging and an Elvis-style pharaoh, entertainingly portrayed by Ryan Williams. Costumes are a mix of clothes reminiscent of biblical times but with loads of color, a little glitter and sneakers.
Something likely only North Carolina audiences will note is when Joseph’s brothers are being introduced, one is named Zebulun, which sounds just like our state’s own town of Zebulon, named for 1800s Gov. Zebulon Vance. If you were wondering where the name Zebulon originated, it goes back to antiquity.
Seeing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is a fun night out at DPAC and a celebratory final run of the regular season. “Mamma Mia!” returns to DPAC for a short run at the end of the month.
WHAT: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
WHEN: Through May 18
WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham
On Twitter: @dawnbvaughan