Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

May 10, 2010

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Wilbraham United Players, Wilbraham, MA
through May 16, 2020
by Shera Cohen

It's not necessary to be knowledgeable about stories of the Old Testament to enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's early creative collaboration of "Joseph." In fact, it is probably helpful to set all remembrances of Sunday school learning aside. Very loosely based on the tale of Jacob and his 12 sons, one of whom is Joseph, is this delightful energetic musical.

Wilbraham United Players (WUP) takes on the large task of mounting the 30+ member cast in a very small stage space at the pulpit of a church. Kudos go to director Deborah Trimble and choreographer Dina Del Buono for their collaboration with each other and with the cast of singers and dancers in this fast-paced, non-stop production. It seems as if every inch of space is utilized, as actors - initially seated in the audience - jump from their seats to become characters in the aisles and onstage.

While titled, "Joseph…," the star is the narrator played by Carolyn Averill. An Anne Hathaway look-alike with a lovely soprano voice, Averill leads her young "flock" of adorable child singers who are onstage, through every scene. This is community theatre at its best as local youth become actively involved.

The orchestra of seven is so professionally skilled that it could (and should) be hired by area restaurants, nightclubs, and outdoor festivals. However, it does not quite belong in the same venue as the cast. Summing it up - too loud. Solos such as Joe's "Close Every Door" and Pharaoh's "Stone the Crows" are nearly inaudible for those seated further back than the fourth row. Yet the ensemble pieces like the brothers' fun "Those Canaan Days" are unscathed by the belting music, and/or acoustic problems inherent in the facility. Indeed, the group numbers fair especially well, particularly in the endings of Act I and II. Recommendation to the musicians: turn down the synthesizers and percussion.

Watch for Anthony Yacovone (brother Judah) as a young man destined for fame on any theatre stage. His "Benjamin Calypso" is one of the highlights of the evening. He's enthusiastic, humorous, and commands stage presence while never upstaging.