Monday, August 17, 2015

reviews - JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT - Valley Youth Theatre

Payton Bioletto and Nathan Sheppard
photo: Barry Smith
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 30th.

"When Broadway sent the last national touring production of the comic operetta Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to the valley it cut its one most important element, and it made all the difference: the children’s chorus. ...With its older, experienced adult members playing leads, a solid support of VYT members playing wives, brothers, slaves and the general ensemble, plus – and here’s where the production totally charms – an engaging cast of children in the chorus supporting everything, every step of the way, you’ll leave the theatre with the broadest of smiles.  The whole thing will win you over...this is the show you wanted the last national touring production to be, but wasn’t...the show is an oddball patchwork of musical styles all thrown in together to make one lively piece of musical theatre that is as bizarrely eccentric as it is funny...director Bobb Cooper’s colorful production thrives on several levels, but it’s with his casting choices where he truly succeeds. ...Jack Rose is a scene stealer; he brings the house down with his Elvis inspired Pharoah,...Nathan Sheppard as Joseph whose handsome good looks and strong vocals anchor the production...the part of the Narrator has developed into one of the most vocally demanding roles required on Broadway.  It’s the character that holds everything together; without it there’s no show..Payton Bioletto has displayed a talent for both song and dance coupled with a winning personality that, like the children’s chorus, charms the moment she makes her initial entrance.  It’s not just a matter of singing well – which she does – or that she can appear strikingly eye-catching on stage – which she also does – but it’s that extra ingredient that every musical performer needs to stand out, and it can’t be taught; it’s a natural quality of warmth and likeability that comes without force...as Joseph’s Narrator she fulfills every promise ever suggested.  When the children’s chorus surrounds the Narrator it’s like watching the 4th grade hugging their favorite teacher; it’s surprisingly touching and it’s Payton that makes the moment feel real. With a spectacular dazzling set design appropriately lit by Michael Eddy, outstanding costumes by Karol Cooper, a tight orchestra under Mark Fearey’s direction that never drowns the vocals, fun, energetic choreography from Lucas Coatney with assistance from VYT alumni Elyssa Blonder and Bobb Cooper’s ever inventive direction – the selfie the narrator takes with the cast is laugh-out-loud funny – VYT’s Joseph is hands down the most fun production of the summer.  It leaves Broadway’s national touring production lost in our Arizona desert dust." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

One of the first collaborations between composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat features a mix of fun musical styles from rock to country and calypso as well as plenty of spirited, clever lyric rhymes. ...Led by a talented group of young adults and with fun direction and energetic choreography, Valley Youth Theatre's production is even better than the national tour production that was recently in town.  The family friendly musical is based on the Old Testament story of Joseph, a dreamer who has a beautiful coat his father Jacob gave him which makes his eleven brothers jealous. Since Joseph is Jacob's favorite son, the brothers decide to sell Jacob to not only get rid of him, but also to prevent Joseph's dream of ruling over them not come true. While the plot is very thin, the musical features a score with a number of infectious musical hooks and motifs by Lloyd Webber that you'll be humming for days after seeing the show...Valley Youth Theatre has assembled an impressive cast, led by Nathan Sheppard and Payton Bioletto as Joseph and the Narrator, respectively. Both not only have clear and strong vocals but also exude charm and joy as well as bring a high level of excitement to their roles. Sheppard's voice soars in his solos while Bioletto gets the chance to add a few personal touches to her many songs. Bioletto also has many moments with the large youth choir, and the ease she has with them as well as her ability to let them shine in their moments in the spotlight are true signs of a professional. In the supporting cast, Jack Rose gyrates his way through the hugely popular role of the Pharaoh, with the combination of swiveling hips and Elvis vocal style a delight. The rest of the cast, playing Joseph's eleven brothers, his father Jacob, and the many ensemble roles, all have fun with their parts.  Director Bobb Cooper has staged a flowing production with constant movement and good use of the entire Herberger stage, including the nice touch of having the children's chorus use the two second level boxes on the sides of the stage. Choreographer Lucas Coatney's exuberant, and always changing, dance routines combine seamlessly with Cooper's direction. ...Karol Cooper's costumes are excellent, featuring a non-stop parade of fun pieces, including a stellar finale "coat" for Joseph. Michael Eddy's vibrant light design is just as outstanding, with what appear to be hundreds of lights above the stage that are always changing, moving, and washing the stage in an abundance of color. ...While the plot of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is as thin as can be, the infectious melodies and youthful charm of the young cast overcome many of the shortcomings of the piece. The family-friendly production also has some lessons that anyone can benefit from hearing, along with several songs that you'll be humming for days. VYT's production has an abundance of humor, exceptional leads, and results in a fun, infectious production. -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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