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It’s that time again. Now entering its 20th season with this 60th production, it seems that every six or seven years Class Act Productions mounts another brilliant staging of the Andrew Lloyd Webber (Music) & Tim Rice (Lyrics) classic musical, JOSEPH and the AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. The lead role has brought good fortune to stars of the earlier Class Act editions. Lance Kramer starred in 2003 and headed to Hollywood to pursue both theatre and the culinary arts. As a chef known for his Texas-style barbeque (@ChefLanceKramer), Lance paired with his wife to win Runner-Up Champions on television’s “Great Food Truck Race,” in 2014. Meanwhile, Aaron Boudreaux, star of the 2009 edition, went on to New York, gained his Actor’s Equity card, and is now performing in a South Korea production of “Phantom of the Opera.”
With his warm and soothing voice and stage presence, it would not surprise me if the current production’s star, Peter McPoland, should find future adventures in professional theatre for himself. The handsome lad is every inch the All-American Boy, and in last weekend’s performance at the Nancy Bock Center for the Performing Arts, beams of light seemed to radiate from his joyful performance as the biblical Joseph, a young man greatly loved by his father, Jacob (Collin Rue), but envied by his jealous brothers who cart him off and sell him into slavery. Skillfully directed by Keith Brumfield, the delightful musical adventures that follow find Joseph ultimately becoming ruler of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself.
With lovely voices, both Maddie Bergeron and Payton Russell beautifully guided the unfolding story. They headed what Hollywood used to call, “a cast of thousands,” or so it seemed, with well over a hundred young actors filling the stage in scene after opulent scene. (Set Designer, Jonathan Shelledy, Scenic Designers, Jamie Bautista, Heather Brown & Madison Crisp). A first taste of the pleasant melodies to follow was nicely captured by the “Joseph Orchestra,” beautifully conducted by Music Director, Rae Moses, from the bandstand cleverly mounted high atop the stunning Egyptian palace set.
The opening “Prologue/Any Dream Will Do,” featured not only vocally talented Mr. Poland, but also a superb 22-voice children’s chorus (Director, Debra Moses), that was as thrilling as the exquisite period costumes of designer, Laurie Lewis, that would dazzle the audience throughout the show. Topping that costume list would be the magnificent and colorful coat Jacob gives his son, and proud Joseph eagerly flaunts it during the whirling and joyful song, “Joseph’s Coat.”
With the dancing and singing of the talented Ensemble, that number was so spectacular it could have been a grand finale. Next came the multi-talented cast of Joseph’s eleven rowdy and rebellious brothers during the fine dancing of both the “Joseph’s Dreams” number, and the “Poor, Poor Joseph” that again included the gifted Ensemble and Children’s Chorus. The dance fun then exploded with foot-stomping excitement when the brothers join their wives for the country-style hoedown of “One More Angel in Heaven.” (Choreographer, Mieka Phillips). With the jazzy song, “Potiphar,” the cast brings campy hilarity to celebrating the zoot-suit adorned arrival of Potiphar, the captain of the palace guard (Nidal Wadi). Taylor Parsley plays Potiphar’s wife, as the amusingly unsuccessful seductress of young Joseph, who then finds himself imprisoned during the haunting, “Close Every Door.” The stage is filled with wonder as Act One closes with the colorful splendor and go-go dancing of “Go, Go, Go Joseph,” featuring Joseph and his fellow prisoners, the Butler (Mercer Sadlier) and the Baker (Bill Nowlin).
In spite of a few body-mike audio failures, Act Two was delightful as well. Amid the mystical, ruby-colored lighting of the splendid royal palace and the authentic ancient Egyptian costume designs for the cast, we meet the Pharaoh, played by Garrett Newlun. He delivers a regal and hip-swiveling performance of “Song of the King,” that hilariously echoes the Las Vegas persona of another well-known king named Elvis, while causing Pharaoh’s pretty, dancing followers to faint in their enthusiasm. Joseph gains release from prison when his gift for discerning the meaning of dreams finds favor with the Pharaoh, who rewards him with appointment as second in command of the kingdom.
Before all ends well with family unity, the brothers light up the stage with the infectious melodies of, “Those Canaan Days,” (led by Brandon Brown), and “Benjamin Calypso” (led by Brandon Brumfield). There was so much more from this enormous and talented cast, but what lingers is the finale reprise of “Any Dream Will Do.” For director Brumfield, however, only dreams of musical theatre excellence will suffice. That dream has clearly come true.
CLASS ACT’s next production will be THE WIZARD OF OZ on July 8, 9, 14, 15 & 16. For details visit the website at http://www.ClassActProductions.org.