I’ve seen many productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat over the years; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Footlight Theatre’s production falls somewhere comfortably in the middle.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, the family-friendly tuner has become extremely popular with community and school theatre groups. Vancouver is apparently not immune to these charms, as this is the first of three Josephs gracing local stages over the coming year.
Based on the Old Testament story, the musical follows dreamer Joseph and his brothers using various styles of music including French ballads, country, calypso and disco.
Danny Balkwill (Thoroughly Modern Millie, TUTS) as Joseph has a pop voice well-suited to the title role. He mostly used his instrument to good effect, although in parts his riffing seemed excessive.
Bree Greig as the Narrator was off to an auspicious beginning in her Vancouver musical-theatre debut. Her voice has a clear bell-like quality and she carried herself well amongst the large ensemble.
David Kemper’s Potiphar was a scene-stealer in his brief appearance and Brad Strelau’s Pharaoh was a credit to cheesy Elvis impersonators everywhere.
The children’s chorus sang earnestly under the capable direction of Elaine Lindbjerg and was absolutely precious. Several young stars-in-the making were readily apparent during the children’s solo performances.
Live music can make or break a production and the band of Michael Creber, Buff Allen, Miles Black, Dave Ivaz, Kate Stewart and Rene Worst was nearly flawless.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is almost completely sung-through, and it can be difficult for some less-seasoned actors to properly define and develop their characters with little to no spoken dialogue. This ensemble repeatedly fell into that trap and would have benefited from some stronger direction as to acting while singing.
This is Footlight’s first time in the larger 600-seat Michael J. Fox Theatre, which is double the audience space of their past venues. Director Lalainia Lindbjerg-Strelau’s Joseph has set them off to a respectable start for what will hopefully be more successful shows down the road.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, presented by Footlight Theatre Company, plays until November 14, 2009, at the Michael J. Fox Theatre, 7373 MacPherson Ave, Burnaby. Tickets are available online or by phone at 604-684-2787.