Of all the adjectives you’d use to describe the Community Theatre of Howell’s current production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the most appropriate one is this: Entertaining.
This show is just flat-out entertaining. It’s as entertaining a musical production as Livingston County has ever seen, and it’s a blast from start to finish.
You could also say that “Joseph” is funny, poignant, raucous, colorful, energetic and eye-popping, but most of all, it’s entertaining. Flat-out entertaining. On opening weekend, every single audience member walked out of the theater smiling and singing and laughing.
The cast is talented and engaging, the chemistry of the actors is amazing, and the dances are incredible. Director Sherry Randall and the cast and crew have given us a show that’s nothing short of magical.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” continues this Friday through Sunday (Nov. 10-12) at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, and you’d be doing yourself a favor to get your tickets now.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is based on the Biblical tale of Joseph, found in the book of Genesis.
Joseph is the favored son of Jacob – and Jacob makes no bones about it. Jacob gives Joseph a colorful coat to show him that he’s the favored son, and that doesn’t sit well with his 11 brothers, who sell him off into slavery.
The music in “Joseph” hits on virtually every genre – from country to reggae.
As Joseph, Stefan Potter is warm and engaging, and he especially excels during the show’s many funny moments. He also shows off his impressive vocal chops throughout the show, particularly during his solo, “Close Every Door.” It’s fantastic. It takes a talented actor to handle the range that Joseph requires, and Potter does it all superbly.
Joseph’s story is told in song by the Narrator, and in CTH’s production, the role is shared by Sarah Brown and Kelly Hayner. They each bring their own unique touch to the role, and they’re both outstanding. This is one of the most vocally demanding roles in all of musical theater, and Brown and Hayner bring all the energy it requires.
Brown (who plays the role this coming Saturday for both shows) has a flawless vocal style that particularly shines during one of the show’s signature numbers, “Poor, Poor Joseph.” She absolutely nails it.
Hayner (who plays the role this coming Friday and Sunday) has a brilliant flair for bringing out the humor in the Narrator role, and her on-stage energy is amazing.
Much of the comedy in the show – and many of the best musical numbers – come from Joseph’s 11 scheming brothers. It’s doubtful that any set of brothers who have ever performed “Joseph” on any stage have ever been funnier than these 11. You smile the minute they come on stage, because you know that something funny is coming.
Credit the talented folks who play the brothers, and credit Director Randall for milking these roles for all they’re worth. There are so many small, funny bits that it’s impossible to catch them all even if you see every performance.
Special mention must also be made of the chemistry they have on stage. They actually SEEM like real brothers.
The brothers who sing the solos nail them. CTH veteran John Hess (who does double duty in this show as the Butler and Brother Simeon) is a comedic standout in “Those Canaan Days.” In some productions of “Joseph,” that number can drag a bit, but in this one, it’s one of the best parts of the show. Hess is a pro.
Tyler Dixon, as Brother Judah, is bright and funny in “Benjamin Calypso,” while Mark Wilson (as Brother Asher and the Baker) is a riot in every number.
Dane Douglas, as Brother Reuben, uses his commanding voice and stage presence to great effect singing “One More Angel.”
Rebecca Chan, as Brother Benjamin, has a great moment late in the second act, when Benjamin is framed for stealing Joseph’s golden cup. She truly commands the stage.
All of the brothers – Bill Harvey, Ben Breneman, Jackson Manning, Joe Morris and Ethan O’Dell – are worth the price of admission alone.
Harvey has double duty playing Potiphar, and along with the evil Mrs. Potiphar (played with great relish by Bethany Bean), they’re fantastic in the show-stopping “Potiphar.”
Brian Doefer (Jacob) and Laurie Russell (one of his wives) do an excellent job of setting the stage in the highly entertaining “One More Angel.”
The show is outrageously funny from start to finish, but the funniest moments in the show belong to Brent Bishop, who delivers a pitch-perfect performance as the Elvis-like Pharaoh. Randall has given him a whole lot of material and comedic bits to work with, and man, does he deliver. You never want his scene to end.
And now, a word about the dances.
Choreographer Maria Usher does some of her greatest work ever in this show, led by her featured dancers – Brooklyn Harvey, Karalynn Johnson, Sara Johnson, Chelsea Martindale, Lottie Moorehouse, Allyson Swims, Lucy Thomas and Makenna Usher. Usher has a lot of talent to work with, and she makes the most of it.
The dances are clever and detailed and Usher makes great use of every bit of everything. The show’s closing number – the Mega-Mix – might be the most entertaining dance number in CTH history.
Credit the entire cast for the life and style they bring throughout every dance number, including the wives – Aimee Bean, Dawn Dunigan, Becky Hess, Casey Irey, Madison LeMieux, Marie Mayo, Loni Pryor, Samantha Purdom, Amelia Slemp and Laurie Russell.
And for a show that’s almost all music – there are only a few words of spoken dialogue – vocal director Susan Harvey has done a spectacular job of bringing it all together. This show doesn’t just LOOK great; it SOUNDS great.
Special mention also needs to be made of the show’s Youth Chorus, the youngsters who kick the show off in great fashion and are a delight throughout. The talented group includes Abby Brown, Mason Burley, Maggie Carstensen, Piper Curtin, Eden Donnelley, Devin Douglas, Tyler Martin, Aundrea Miles, Claire Morris, James Potter, Elysia Reising, Andi Repyak, Nora Rioux, Emma Schue and Lena Zielkowski.
As for the colorful sets, props, costumes and makeup, this “Joseph” is spectacular. Credit the entire production staff for that: Co-producers Heather Lucas and Karla Tobey; stage manager Lynda Bednarczyk; assistant producer Katie Johnson; tech director Mike Dunigan; co-set build leads Rich Schue and Kirk Laughner; and costume leads Dawn and Caitlin Eldred.
We’re lucky to have this kind of show taking the stage in our community. Do yourself a favor and catch one of this weekend’s performances.
Performances take place Nov. 10-12 at the Howell High School Freshman Campus, 1400 W. Grand River Ave. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday each weekend.
Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, available at Finding Roots in Howell, Kahuna Coffee in Hartland, Maria’s School of Dance in Fowlerville, Big Acre in Brighton, and Ed Bock Feed and Seed in Pinckney. Tickets are also available by calling 517-545-1290, or online at cththeatre.org. You can order tickets by clicking here.