The Maine State Music Theater turned up the energy with the hilarious biblical musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” last Thursday.
Director and choreographer Alex Sanchez takes audiences on a journey of grief, hope and laughter with musical numbers steeped in jazz, ballet, tango, ballroom dancing and line dancing.
The most impressive dance moment of the show comes when actor Jonathan Bryant surprised the crowd with a series of backflips. Bryant followed his gymnastics demonstration with a rubber dance resembling that of “Wizard of Oz” actor Scarecrow Ray Bolger.
While many may identify with the concept of sibling rivalry, the 1981 Broadway show takes things to a whole new level when Joseph, played by Jordan Alexander, receives a colorful coat from his father, making his 11 brothers green with envy. .
Their jealousy is driven home when head electrician Hannah Grace Harper floods the stage with green lights.
The multicolored coat represents Joseph’s ability to dream and predict the future. Angered by Joseph’s superiority and his vision of prosperity, his brothers destroy the coat in an attempt to kill him. Unable to end his life, the 11 brothers sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father that he is dead.
Sets by David Quackenbush and Kenton Jones transport the audience to the deserts of ancient Egypt with pyramids, palm trees and hieroglyphics, where Joseph is forced to work as Potiphar’s servant.
Taken to bed with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph is chained and thrown into prison. Feeling alone despite being surrounded by other prisoners, Joseph then sings his chilling song, “Close Every Door”. It is here that the audience can understand Joseph’s struggles as a dreamer and being shut out of the world.
Played by Alyssa Anani, the show’s narrator uses her wide vocal range and sass to get Joseph back on track. Joseph begins to predict the fate of his fellow inmates in the song-and-dance number “Go, Go, Go Joseph”, ending the first act with the powerful vocals of Alexander and Anani.
The second act doesn’t disappoint when modern and ancient worlds collide. Get ready for a visit from the King himself, Elvis.
Costume shop manager Madison Queen lures you in with shards of gold, large feather headgear, a bumblebee cape, and jewelry in “A Pharaoh’s Story,” the Vegas-style dance number that opens the second act.
Audience members were surprised when actor Jeff Max took a page from Elvis’ book, wiped the sweat from his brow and threw it into the crowd for adoring fans. When Joseph interprets Pharaoh Elvis’ dream as more food for Egypt, the pharaoh puts Joseph on the fast track to prosperity.
Miles away, Joseph’s brothers struggle with hunger as they begin to regret driving away their father’s favorite son. In a French-style number with berets and cigarettes, Kyle Laing leads his brothers in comedic number “The Cannan Days.” Laing’s animated facial expressions, French accent, and flexible range of motion make for a hilarious combination.
The eleven brothers all venture into Egypt to beg for food, not recognizing their gold-covered brother Joseph. Joseph tests his brother’s loyalty by placing a stolen item in one of their food bags. Judah played by Willie Clyde Beaton II proves his brother’s innocence in the Caribbean-inspired dance number “Benjamin Calypso”, claiming his brother is “straighter than the tall bamboo”. Beaton’s soothing performance will leave you calm and serene, with a smile on your face.
Seeing that his brother had changed his ways, Joseph reveals his true identity and is welcomed with open arms.
Alexander’s eyes shone with tears as his character reunited with his father and brothers.
With a nearly full house, the audience cheered throughout the closing number.
The cast and crew of the show were top notch and accompanied by an amazing orchestra that will leave you humming the tunes all the way home.
For tickets, visit msmt.org.