Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Jiffy "Joseph"

It's the Bible if it were covered in sequins and served with a double gin and tonic

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
And isn't that always a good thing?

If your understanding of the Good Book could use a refresh but you find the typical Old Testament sermons a little dry, look no further than Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, currently showing at the Orpheum.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
One of Andrew Lloyd Webber's first and best known musicals, Joseph follows the story of the man whose obvious position as his father Jacob's favorite was too much for his 11 jealous brothers. Through a series of attempted fratricide, almost-rape and skill at dream interpretation, Joseph lands himself a plum position in Pharoah's court, where his brothers eventually come in repentance and are forgiven for their devious actions.

It's likely to be a familiar story to many of us, and the technicolor wash over this production manages to hide the insanely dark subject matter (I mean how many of us would attempt to kill a sibling and then lie about NOT doing it to our parents? And things get weirder somehow...). This company in particular keeps things moving, with the entire show including intermission clocking in at under two hours - the perfect amount of time for most shows, I believe.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
This clippiness is partly due to the stylings of the excellent Narrator Laura Helm. Helm truly steers the ship of Joseph straight through murky waters and towards its end goal. Her lithe voice shimmys through the story and injects it with the energy it needs to really shine. She is key to this musical's success, and she does a great job.

Also enjoyable is JC McCann as Joseph. McCann tends to stray from his natural abilities - sorry sir, but Christina Aguilara you are not - but he still possesses a lovely voice that suits the part of Joseph quite well. In particular, McCann nails the classic "Close Every Door," ushering the first act towards a heady close.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
The ensemble is appropriately enthusiastic, and they sell their costumes like nobody's business. I've not ever been a huge fan of the production design in general for Joseph - I usually find it a little too Age of Aquarius for my taste - but there is some definite eye candy among the ensemble cast and that helps soothe the soul here. They also make excellent use of scrims and projections, adding an oddly comforting cartoonish aspect to the design that modernizes it and makes it feel homey.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Joseph has never been a huge favorite of mine, but this production really brings a fresh take to an age-old story. It's especially appropriate following Easter (if you're into that) and a reminder that although we have our differences, we are all brothers. It's a good thing to keep in mind as we mourn Jamar Clark and find a way to heal our community together.

For more information or to buy tickets, click on this link. Joseph runs through April 3.