The Rice/Webber little musical based on a Bible story from Genesis, started as a 20-minute piece performed for schoolchildren.
Since its beginnings in the early ’70s, the little musical has been performed by thousands upon thousands of church and community groups and expanded into a full scale West End and Broadway musical. I’ve seen the musical in a variety of forms over the years, but never like it is being produced at Theatre-by-the-Sea.
Director/choreographer Richard Sabellico has taken the show and expanded it into a full-scale production with a large cast of competent singers/dancers and a lead whose talents make you a believer.
Sabellico set the production in 1967, with a troupe of traveling performers arriving in Matunuck to put on a show. The lights dim, they travel down the aisles carrying their props and scenery, introduce themselves, and a narrator (Marie Eife) begins telling the tale of a young man who is given a coat of many colors by his father, only to bring out the jealousy in his brothers who sell him into slavery.
We follow Joseph as he is jailed and treated badly until one day he becomes known as the interpreter of dreams, rising to a powerful position. His dreams prove to be true, and the former outcast becomes famous.
His brothers come begging for help and forgiveness and he provides both, making for a happy ending of a G-rated family musical with good lessons for everyone. It is a simple little story, told with music and dance and little dialogue.
TBTS has made it bigger than life by expanding the dancing and bringing the music to new heights with the excellent voice of Luke Steinhaeur, who was born to play Joseph.
I found more humor in the play than before, much due to the three (count ’em, three) roles of local actor Tom Gleadow, the main one being Joseph’s father, Jacob. Gleadow has found a home at Theatre-by-the-Sea, one of very few local actors who have done so.
You should recognize some of the songs, including “Close Every Door,” which Steinhauer sings at the end of Act 1 and reprises after the finale. And speaking of the finale, don’t run for the parking lot to beat the crowd or you will miss the “Megamix.”
Like the slam-bang ending given to “Mama Mia,” which, by the way, broke all records playing to a 99 percent unheard of house every night, “Joseph” has a reprise of all the songs, ranging from rock to country to reggae to ballads, and it is a few minutes of absolute delight.
Owner Bill Hanney has found the knack to bring tried and true productions to the summer theatre barn and make them his own. Let’s see what he does with the last show of the season, “Chicago.”
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at Theatre-by-the-Sea through August 12. Call 782-8587 for reservations.