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Previews
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Eastlight Theatre
December 2-4 & 7-11
By Cara Rosson
 

In case you didn't know, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is based on the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers, and their father Jacob. But it's pretty likely, if you've lived in the Peoria area for any length of time, that you know the story. Because Eastlight Theatre has been doing this musical, as it's holiday production for 21 years! If you've lived here that long and haven't seen it – well, it's about time you did.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (hereafter referred to as Joseph, because this is a really long title) is a fun musical tale that uses a wide variety of musical styles to spin the story. Written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice (who also wrote Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar together), the show is one of the more popular musical productions in the US and the UK. And Eastlight's production makes it clear why. It is colorful and sparkly and entertaining.

Eastlight is well practiced at this show after 21 years, and the set and costumes show it. The coat of the title is gorgeous, and the simple costumes are equally colorful and varied. They also go with the style of the music. For example, the closing number of act one is “Go Go Go Joseph,” and it is a 60s era pop song. The chorus is dressed in groovy, psychedelic prints with bellbottom pants.

The set, by Steve Cordle, keeps the show moving along, with multiple levels, steps that light up like rainbows, and a revolving centerpiece. New settings for each song – from the plains where Joseph and his brothers herd sheep, to the Pharaoh’s jail – are brilliantly conceived and executed. The bars of Joseph's prison cell are a particularly inventive piece. The entire look of the show is exciting. The theme for each musical number is well designed, and it is probably one of the best sets I've seen in town. The lighting (again done by Mr. Cordle) is also spectacular. Colors and shapes and movement build upon the wonderful set, and together; make for a really eye-popping experience.

The singers round out the show beautifully. Brandon Chandler plays Joseph, and his voice is rich and expressive. He is a charming and endearing Joseph, and carries the show very well. Not surprisingly, he has worked in Chicago Theatre, winning a BTAA Best Leading Actor Award as Radames in Bailiwick Chicago's production of the musical Aida. Bree Carroll as the Narrator does a great job, and her lovely voice blends well with Chandler's. Stephen Peterson as the Pharaoh does a great job in his Elvis-themed number, “Song of the King.” He's got the dance moves down, too!

There is one aspect of the show that is disappointing, and that is the choreography. It is incredibly simplistic. I'm pretty sure my 8 year old son could pull it off – so watching a chorus of adults do it is less than enjoyable. I am surprised by this, given the near professional level of all other aspects of the show. And given that they've been doing the show for twenty-one years, and many of the cast members are repeat performers. There are a few moments to enjoy the dancing, including the Heartland Clogger's western tap number during “One More Angel” and, as I mentioned before, Peterson's Elvis impersonation. But I really hope they brush up that aspect for year twenty-two.

Joseph runs through December 11th at Eastlight Theatre (located within East Peoria High School's Auditorium) and it makes a great holiday outing for the whole family.   Tickets are $17 per person and are available at the Eastlight Theatre Box Office, by calling 309-699-7469 or online at www.eastlighttheatre.com

Posted December 7, 2011

 

 
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