Riverside Center for the Performing Arts is currently presenting “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Director and producer Patrick A’Hearn correctly describes this as a “fun show,” and for its 25th Anniversary, Riverside wanted a family friendly show just such as this.
…all involved clearly want this to be a fun production for the audience and they succeeded!
The narrative of this Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical reaches back to biblical antiquity as Joseph attracts the jealousy of his many brothers. Favored by his father (the patriarch Jacob), Joseph is given a coat of many colors. As the show lyrics have it, of “…cream and crimson and silver and rose / And azure and lemon and russet and grey / And purple and white and pink and orange /…” all imaginable colors. Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph into slavery, only for him to rise to prominence in Egypt. He is eventually promoted to a powerful office in Egypt where he determines the fate of his family as they suffer from a famine.
This musical is notable for its score of many styles. One of the standout routines is “One More Angel in Heaven,” a Western-style number with a country hoedown by the brothers and Ensemble. The song, “Potiphar,” delineating Joseph’s rise to and sudden fall from power, displays the musical’s traditional Broadway-style elements and is done particularly well. “Those Canaan Days” is performed in over-the-top, French chanson style. Especially fun and catchy is “Benjamin Calypso,” led by the infectious singing of Wilson Pezzuto as Judah.
The key songs of this musical are “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.” Both are performed beautifully by Kyle Dalsimer as Joseph, with an especially emotive “Close Every Door,” sung as he is thrown into prison. In a high point of this production, Toneisha Harris sings an exuberant and highly stylized rendition of “Song of the Queen” as Pharoah. (Harris was runner-up in Season 18 of TV’s “The Voice“ in 2020.) Ashlee Waldbauer is a ubiquitous presence in this production as the Narrator. She lends the show much personality as well as a fine singing voice.
In the initial scenes, the costumes and the sets of the production may be modest, but the show becomes more colorful and more ornate as it goes on with the amazing “dreamcoat” of many colors and sets such as neon-lit pyramids with Art Deco-like streamlining. Colorful Las Vegas-style backdrops eventually fill the stage with show-stopping lights. Musically, the show has something to offer everyone but the orchestra, conducted by Carson Eubank, seemed to emphasize the rock beat with drums and heavily-amplified guitar.
Riverside is a dinner theatre and, in this case, the menu “got in the spirit of the show” with fun color-themed drinks displaying playful cocktail names referring to the musical, including “Jacob’s Favorite Son,” “Pharaoh’s Dream,” and “A Cocktail of Many Colors.”
Director Patrick A’Hearn, choreographer Stephanie Wood, the enthusiastic cast, and all involved clearly want this to be a fun production for the audience and they succeeded!
Running time: Approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” runs through July 9, 2023 at The Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, 95 Riverside Pkwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22406. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at (540) 370-4300 or go online. Masks are optional.