It has been nearly six years since the summer of 2003 when I last had the opportunity to review a Class Act Production of “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” with its eclectic musical score from Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the witty lyrics of Tim Rice. As there is no telling if, or when, this stellar company will again present this delightful show, I suggest reader’s hurry over to the Nancy Bock Center for the Performing Arts for one of today’s two final performances of the current production. Trust me: It is not to be missed!
The orchestra opened with the spirited Overture, skillfully conducted by musical director, Rae Moses, with his musicians cleverly sequestered high atop the dramatic and monolithic Egyptian temple set of designer, Jonathan Shelledy. Then it is on to this musical re-telling of the Biblical tale of young Joseph (Aaron Boudreaux), his adoring father, Jacob (Tyler Lewis), and his sometimes very jealous brothers. In the able hands of Class Act’s artistic director and founder, Keith Brumfield, the show unfolds in Broadway-worthy style with a cast of more than one hundred performers. Those familiar with Class Act have come to expect this extraordinary level of excellence, but we should not take it for granted. And speaking of excellence, Mr. Boudreaux could not have been better cast in the title role, with all due respect to Bill Hutton’s origination of the part on Broadway some years ago. The handsome Boudreaux’s warm and appealing voice in the opening “Any Dream Will Do,” is beautifully supplemented by the fine singing of the Children’s Chorus, and the show’s dual “narrators,” Abbey Moss and Morgan Starr. These two talented young actresses share their impressive vocal skills in helping to advance the story throughout the performance.
The wonderful choreography of Fayla Curry begins to punctuate scene after scene, while the beautiful Biblical period costumes from designers, Jeanine Moss and Natalie Hurley, are consistently stunning. Stunning as well, are the misty and colorful lighting designs from Blake Minor, bringing us one minute a starry sky, and the next the gleaming court of the pharaoh’s palace. Even the sound levels, often a problem in such large-scale productions, were, with a few exceptions, well-managed by sound designer, Troy Dingle.
But it is the delightful music and the tongue-in-cheek humor that propel this show. The cast seems to have as much fun as the audience in numerous, well-staged ensemble numbers like the one in which Joseph is sold into slavery and carried away, while his envious and conspiring brothers convince their father that Joseph has actually died. Boudreaux anchors all this with his joyous, confident, and vocally solid performance in numbers like “Close Every Door,” beautifully accompanied by the candle-lit procession of the Children‘s Chorus. Adding to the fun are the variety of musical styles in the show. “One More Angel In Heaven,” has a country-western atmosphere. When Joseph is sold as a slave to wealthy Potiphar, we are treated to a Roaring ’20’s- style number with all the jazziness of Kander & Ebb, staged in elegant black and white, and featuring a rotating fan dance that would have suited Busby Berkley if he had a ceiling camera to capture it from above on film. For disco fans, there was a dazzling “Go Go Go Joseph,” number that had a few inaudible vocal moments at its outset, but closed out Act One with a choreographic bang.
In Act Two, as we enter the lush and exotic palace of the Pharaoh (Callen Myers) , there was still more musical variety. Mr. Myers skillfully apes the style of Elvis, and hit’s the ball out of the park joining the huge cast of palace attendants and guards in a riotous rendition of “Song of the King,” that was suitable for a glamorous Las Vegas showroom. In the role of Reuben, Clint Elsik leads the brothers in a wonderful Russian-style, “Those Canaan Days,” that sounded great and looked like it popped out of “Fiddler on the Roof.” There is even a Caribbean-style song with brother Levi (Josiah Miller) leading the merriment of a “Benjamin Calypso,” that features some fancy “Limbo” dancing.
When Boudreaux sang his pristine reprise of “Any Dream Will Do,” I had the wonderful feeling that this was someone who had found exactly the place in the universe that he was meant to be. Now and then we may come across people who seem to be at the peak of their powers. I would like to say this young actor is in his prime, but while exploding with talent, good looks, charm, and charisma, he is only a sophomore in high school. If he pursues his dreams in the theatre, this critic thinks the sky is the limit.
Finally, I think it is worth noting the level of professionalism that is instilled in these young performers with Class Act. One of the most difficult, but often overlooked aspects of Broadway theatre and beyond, is the issue of two performances on matinee days. In fact, oftentimes in professional productions, there are alternate performers in juvenile roles considered too taxing for youngsters to do twice in the same day. Those concerns don’t frighten Class Act, as the company prepares to do two performances of “Joseph” today. Why not join the fun? You won’t be sorry.
Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be performed at Nancy Bock Center for the Performing Arts today at 2:30 p.m. and this evening at 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($17-$20) and information, call 936-273-3395, or visit the website at www.classactproductions.org. Discount student “rush tickets” will be available at the door for $10.00 before this evening’s 7:30 performance.