Joyous, comical ‘Dreamcoat’ plays at the Arvada Center until Dec. 23
Special to the Daily
If you go:
What: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
When: Through Dec. 23
Where: The Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
It’s hard to overstate just how good a job the Arvada Center’s crew did staging this new production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” for the holiday season.
If you’ve never seen it, then this is an excellent opportunity to do so, and if you have, you’ll no doubt enjoy revisiting this hyper-kinetic revival that my wife was so delighted by she likened it to “a surprise birthday party.”
Since it debuted nearly 50 years ago as one of the first Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice collaborations, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” keeps getting restaged because, well, it’s just so darn good. Based on the Book of Genesis tale about a father whose 11 sons conspire against his 12th and most favored son (Joseph), Weber and Rice constructed a musical with very few spoken lines that touches a variety of musical bases as it roars through a plot you think will be a tale of revenge but ends up being something much more charitable.
Surely a good message for these times and this season.
Since it had been almost 15 years since I’d last seen a production of “Dreamcoat,” I’d forgotten what a fun ride it is. Despite its source in the Bible, there’s little reference to God but plenty of nods to pop culture — with director Gavin Mayer tossing in a few modern touches to make it just that more relatable. Well cast with local talent and some out-of-town ringers, Mayer and his team have put together a tight ensemble that checks just about every box you’d want in a well-wrought musical.
Special props go to choreographer Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck, who, in her 43rd production for the Arvada Center, shows off her vast experience in a seemingly nonstop array of beautifully staged numbers with quite a large cast.
Scenic designer Brian Mallgrave’s wonderful set is lavish and multileveled, and Hilsabeck (who also dances in the ensemble) takes advantage of every bit of it.
It’s worth taking your eyes off the main characters to see just how engaged every member of the ensemble is, no matter how far they are from the main action.
As Joseph, Aaron Young pulls off the wide range of emotions and attitudes required of the role. From spoiled brat and tragic figure to campy hero, the role is as varied as the dreamcoat itself, and it’s a lot of fun to watch Young move through it all. Another standout is Sarah Rex as the narrator. With her powerful voice and ability to weave in and out of the action, Rex does a nice job moving the story along with a believable sort of detached bemusement.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is billed as a family musical, and it’d be a nice introduction to musical theater for kids and grandkids. But there’s still plenty of musical allusions there for adults, from the over-the-top Elvis-Pharaoh bit to the hilarious depiction of misery during famine rendered as a French tragedy (complete with berets, Gitanes and, yes, a mime).
If there’s one show worth the trip down the hill this holiday season, then this is it.