“Way, way back, many centuries ago,” Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were young men, just beginning the prolific partnership that brought us “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and of course, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” now playing at Community Players Theatre.
The young composer (Webber) and lyricist (Rice) created the core of what we now know as “Joseph” as a school project in the late 1960s. The early rock opera tells the biblical story of Joseph, the favorite among the 12 sons of Jacob, who rises from slavery (his jealous brothers sold him) to a high-ranking position with the Pharaoh.
Ashleigh Rae-Lynn Feger makes her directorial debut with this mega musical, and she hits it out of the park, thanks to a stellar cast anchored by the beautiful and talented Sharon Russell as the narrator and newcomer Nathan Fryer in the title role.
Russell’s vocal artistry and vibrant energy is engaging from her first entrance, boosting the confidence of the sizable children’s chorus.
Fryer matched Russell note for note, displaying a believable, sibling-like chemistry that is irresistible.
Other highlights from the evening include Chris Terven’s impressive choreography, expertly executed by the ensemble of wives, Brother Judah’s “Benjamin Calypso” performed by Jay Williams, Joe McDonald’s Pharaoh, and “Those Canaan Days,” featuring Alex Knightwright as Simeon and the brothers’ ensemble.
Musical director Rusty Russell had his hands full, with the variety of musical styles featured in this production, but the talented cast made it all look effortless.
The costume team of Ashleigh Rae-Lynn Feger and Ken Sprouls created several looks for this production, from modest to modern, and though there were many changes needed to keep up with the swift pace, no one ever missed an entrance.
Kerry Anne Dixon’s set design provided the perfect playing space for the musical that has graced the stage on Robinhood Lane three other times over the years. Despite the steady fall of rain, there was a rather large crowd of fans huddled under umbrellas waiting outside for more than an hour, hoping to snag a seat into the preview performance I attended.
If you are planning to attend this family-friendly blockbuster, it would be wise to call the theater box office well in advance.