New American Theaters current offering combines music, dance, colorful costumes, and a childrens chorus guaranteed to fill the house with friends and relatives. Searching to find the production that will break even at the box office, the powers that be hope Joseph… fills the bill. Donny Osmonds long-running production made the Tim Rice-Andrew Lloyd Webber a classic, and it continues to be mounted throughout the country.
The huge cast headed by Thadd Krueger as Joseph and Andrea Bear as Narrator fills the stage from opening to finale. A complicated set of platforms and staircases is a challenge to dancers, and directing the movements of 24 adults and 14 children on the multi-level stage gives Director Christy Montour-Larson a taxing task. During many of the numbers, the aisles as well as the stage were filled with performers. In past productions, the children were used primarily as a chorus. These kids sing well, and their interaction with Bear shows how well she works as a role model. Pauline Urso, choreographer, and Jill Beardsley, dance captain, staged every number creatively. Their professional experience is evident in their personal performances and in that of many who have not danced before. It must have required long rehearsals to prepare the children for so many intricate movements.
Krueger and Bear are definitely the stars. Vocally excellent, they give the show class. The brothers represent some of the best male talent in the community, and Gordon Odegard in dual roles as Jacob and Potiphar is outstanding. Nicky Bertolino reprises Elvis as Pharaoh. He played a similar role as the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors.
W. Alan Williams, with the able assistance of Genny Bonavia and costume design intern Julie Page, has created 84 costumes, a monumental task. The changes alone must keep everyone backstage running. When asked if Josephs coat had been done in the costume shop, Williams credited Bonavia with making it in a week, with many of the brilliant fabrics from mens ties.
Speaking with friends a few weeks ago, we discussed the feasibility of using a large number of children in a performance. There is a trade-off. Filling a house is financially necessary. The quality of the show sometimes suffers. Joseph… requires a childrens chorus, and these kids performed exceptionally well. In selecting future plays, NAT has several considerationsaudience, quality of performance and budgeta difficult task at best. Joseph… plays through April 25. Future performances to be announced.