Playhouse South staged Dayton’s first community theater presentation of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” last season, but currently embraces more traditional tastes with its production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a breezily sung-through Biblical opus which opened Friday, March 25 in the Clark Haines Theatre of the Kettering Board of Education Building.
Brett Norgaard supplies sincere innocence, sensitivity and understatement as the titular prophetic boy wonder colorfully cloaked by his adoring father Jacob (Richard Young) and absolutely despised by his jealous brothers. Norgaard’s shy timidity and underdog persona serves him well as Joseph’s topsy-turvy journey from slavery to imprisonment to prominence inherently stirs emotions that pull the audience in, particularly during the poignant “Close Every Door,” one of Lloyd Webber’s finest ballads. He is also winningly partnered with Emily L. Fultz, whose lovely soprano and comedic sensibility warmly resonates while guiding the action as the Narrator.
Additionally, Webber and Rice’s tuneful score, incorporating calypso, country and western, rock and roll, and a Parisian and jazz-tinged waltz, is enjoyably upheld by the committed featured players. Brian Kester (Reuben) and Jim Brown (the Elvis-esque Pharaoh) are noteworthy for their respectively entertaining renditions of “One More Angel in Heaven” and “Song of the King.” The male ensemble also includes Rob Breving (Simeon), Tim Kushmaul (Levi), Kurt Cypher (Napthali), Daniel Sherrell (Asher), Jamal Cann (Dan), Bobby Gray (Zebulon), Jim Spencer (Gad and Potiphar), Jordan Gray (Benjamin) and Charlie Williford (Judah). The female ensemble is humorously led by Angie Thacker (Mrs. Potiphar), Cheryl Kayser (Butler) and Sande Scott (Baker) and also consists of Ashley Davis, Sherry Fox, Pauline Humbert, Jordan Norgaard, Livi Poghen, Katlyn Tilt and Mackensie Vonderbrink. The cute Children’s Chorus, who specifically heighten the lilting beauty of “Any Dream Will Do,” features Samantha Auditore, Zach Auman, Alli Brown, Emily Cypher, Raine Dedominci, Emily Imhoff, Gabrielle Kovachich, Nicholas Plummer and Jackson Smith.
Further, director Jennifer Skudlarek creates a sufficient sense of community while ensuring the larger musical numbers – such as “Joseph’s Coat,” “Go, Go, Go Joseph” and the hoedown reprise of the aforementioned “One More Angel in Heaven” – are delivered with energy. Music director Lorri B. Topping steadily leads the on stage orchestra.
This “Joseph” lacks the pizzazz of previous mountings of the show in our area over the years, but is certainly another artistic step in the right direction for Playhouse South.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will continue through April 9 in the Clark Haines Theatre of the Kettering Board of Education Building, 3700 Far Hills Ave., Kettering. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Act One: 42 minutes; Act Two: 40 minutes. For tickets or more information, call (888) 262-3792 or visit www.playhousesouth.org. In related news, Playhouse South’s 2011 season also consists of A Piece of My Heart (May 13-21), Into the Woods (Aug. 12-21), Fame: The Musical (Nov. 4-19) and In the Spotlight-2011 (Dec. 9-10).