Tuesday, December 25, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Joyous New JOSEPH By Beverly Creasey

In the beginning Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber created a Sunday school lesson called JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. At the end of Turtle Lane’s remarkable thirty year reign, Rachel Bertone returns JOSEPH (playing through Dec. 30th) to its roots. Not to worry, it’s the JOSEPH you know, just infinitely better.

Bertone directs and choreographs, making story and dancing inseparable. The result? The dancing is so tight and the story so moving that you see JOSEPH through new eyes. (I personally never understood its appeal before. This JOSEPH I would happily see again!)

The children, who are usually shunted to the sides of the stage as window dressing, are center stage here, as if the Narrator character (the remarkable Shonna Cirone) were teaching them a spirited Bible lesson. They’re part of the action, as if they were imagining the story as she reads it to them. (The Turtle Lane children, in fact, contributed the drawings which are projected behind them as scenery.) And they sing beautifully!

Bertone has a dream cast. (Not just the usual “any dream will do” cast.) The TLP performers pull off the wild satire without sacrificing sentiment. When Joseph (the exceptional Peter Mill) is reunited with his father (an impressive Rick Sherburne), I had a tear in my eye. It’s never been anything but comic in other productions. Who knew it had heart!

 From Kyle W. Carlson’s magnificent Presley of a Pharoah to the spectacular “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” hoedown (captained by Alex Nemiroski); From Dan Rodriguez’ savvy music direction to the surprise rewind at the end (Be careful what you wish for) this JOSEPH is a Biblical gas!