Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

by Ed Farolan

Written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd
Webber; starring David Burnham, Kelli
James Chase, Abe Reynold, James Harms
To Nov. 2 at the Ford Centre
Tickets: $35-$77.50 at 280-2222

The question that struck me when I saw this Rice-Webber production was: "Now that they're big, are they having fun?" And I answered "Yes!" After Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, and Sunset Boulevard, these two decided to have fun with Joseph.

Taken from Genesis Chapters 37-46, it tells the Old Testament story of Jacob's favourite of 12 sons, Joseph whom he had made a long tunic of colours. Jealous of this, the 11 brothers toss him down a well and then sell him into slavery in Egypt. But because of his gift of interpreting dreams, he eventually rises to become the Pharaoh's right-hand man.

Originally, this was a 20-minute show staged for a school ceremony, but Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice expanded it to approximately 80 minutes, fattening it up with borrowed tunes from Rock 'n Roll, Calypso, Country and Western, Aznavour-Chevalier boulevard ballads, Argentinian tango, and mod sock hop.

Joseph has been to Vancouver at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre with Donny Osmond playing the lead role. When Osmond left, David Burnham, who is the spitting image of Osmond, with his big and shiny smile, is the stereotype of the friendly, All-American California beach boy, sun-tanned, the typical Hollywood prototype of up and coming young stars. Even his life is an example of the American dream: a California farm boy who makes it big in the Entertainment world.

The only other actor who stood out was Abe Reybold . The Presley parody was amusing, and I, as well as the audience of this opening night performance, enjoyed his rendition of Elvis-type songs, as he shook his hips and sang . Fun and silliness. All for entertainment.

Although Anthony Van Laast's choreography was typically American Broadway, I found it to be too much. I suspect, since the show was so short, he probably was told to add more dances at the end with all the loud aerobics and I don't know how many curtain calls, including the over-kill flight of Joseph at the final curtain call, with his huge rainbow cape fanning out behind him as he flies Peter Pan style. I myself was at the balcony watching the show, but I wonder how the orchestra audience felt as he flew over them.

Although I personally found the production vapid and superficial, I think entertainment-wise, it complied with its objective. It's the kind of show that kids would love, especially with the participation of local B.C. children who sing and dance with the cast.