Richter’s ‘Dreamcoat’ is
fun family entertainment
By Chesley Plemmons
you’ve just turned 20 and have a flair for writing musical comedy, as Andrew Lloyd
Webber and Tim Rice did, it’s not likely you’ll start your career writing sad
And sad is not at all what
you’d call Webber and Rice’s first collaboration, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor
Dreamcoat.” A merry retelling of the Biblical story about sibling rivalry run
amok, it’s surprisingly buoyant despite some serious overtones.
is the season finale at Danbury’s Musicals at Richter and it makes for an evening
the whole family can enjoy. Bright costumes to match the Technicolor title, witty
scenic designs, and a well-sung performance briskly staged by directors David
Roth and Kerry Long turn this minor musical into an entertainment perfectly suited
to outdoor theater.
I haven’t a clue why
Webber and Rice chose Biblical themes for “Joseph” and their later and darker
work “Jesus Christ Superstar” rather than English comedy or collegiate satire.
“Superstar” does get much of its power
from the tragedy of Jesus’ last days, but “Joseph” could easily have been about
any family where brother seems pitted against brother.
this story, Joseph is his father’s favorite, and when the old man gives him a
“coat of many colors” his brothers band together and sell him into slavery in
Egypt. Except for the references to the Good Book and the exotic Egyptian settings,
his saga of survival and escape could have been set anywhere.
the Pharaoh learns of Joseph’s ability to foresee the future, he is given a position
of eminence just in time to rescue his brothers, who have arrived from their famine
The score is a humorously
anachronistic mix — the natural outpouring of a newly minted composing team bursting
with ideas. Listen for musical phrases that will turn up later in “Evita” and
Especially funny are the
brothers’ tongue-in-cheek lament about Joseph’s purported demise, “One More Angel
in Heaven”; the droll “Those Canaan Days”; and the Caribbean-flavored “Benjamin
As the Narrator who leads us
through the story, Meredith Boak sang warmly and exuded a playful charm, and Nathan
Mandracchia as Joseph was equally right as both singer and actor. He has good
stage presence and his secure voice suggested an appealing range.
actors playing the brothers were a game lot, and several had a special moment
in the spotlight.
My schedule necessitated
my departing just after the second-act opening, so I missed Jean-Pierre Ferragamo’s
turn as the flamboyant Pharaoh. Having seen him chew the scenery most successfully
in other productions, however, I’m sure he got a royal share of laughs.
warrant also that Eddie Lopez, who played the gambling and dancing Bill Calhoun
in Ritcher’s “Kiss Me Kate,” was the proper choice to lead the calypso number.
David Cannizaro, who did such good work
in “The Grass Harp” at Square One Theater in Stratford, turns in another good
supporting performance as Potiphar, Joseph’s first Egyptian master.
role of Potiphar’s sexy wife is being played on alternate nights by Nancy Hillis
and Jody Baker. Hillis was on the night I attended and she would have given the
seductive Mrs. Robinson a run for her money.
Metchick’s perky choreography surfaced from time to time, and Reid Thompson’s
sets, particularly the Aida-like setting for the Pharaoh’s digs, were both clever
The musical direction
by Don Rickenback was tempo-perfect, and for once the orchestra sounded smoothly
integrated. Gone, and not missed by me, were the brass instruments here that never
seem to be on key.
Though the shows don’t
begin until summer sundown, 8:30 p.m., “Joseph” is not a long show. If you’re
using Musicals at Richter as a beginner’s course in theater for your kids, you’ll
all be in bed at a reasonable hour.
and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Performances are tonight, Saturday and
Sunday and next weekend at 8:30 p.m. at Musicals at Richter, Richter Arts Center,
100 Aunt Hack Road, Danbury.
$15; $12 for seniors, $10 for students and children; call the box office at (203)
748-6873 or visit www.musicalsatrichter.com.
grounds open at 7:15 for picnicking. Lawn chairs may be rented if reserved in