TIM RICE AND ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER CELEBRATE 50 YEARS AS BROADWAY'S POP ROCK WRITERS - A STUNNING CAST AND PRODUCTION TEAM BRINGS EGYPT TO LIVERMORE
The Bankhead in Livermore Ca is transformed into the ancient deserts of Egypt. Tri Valley Rep opens their 36th stunning season with family friendly theatre. The 50th Anniversary of Tim Rice’s and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first musical JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT still has that pop charm. “Go, go, go Joseph, you know what they say, go, go, go Joseph, you’ll make it someday!”, keeps this fun musical still entertaining. DREAMCOAT is now on stage only through August 4th at the Bankhead Stage. The musical first premiered as a brief cantata at a London school in 1968.
The Webber and Rice work has an unusual path of being one of the most produced musicals of all time. It has been estimated that worldwide over 20,000 school, community and professional theaters have produced the work. Tri Valley Rep has a strong history staging this family musical. DREAMCOAT opened in 1968 and it is still a celebration to this day with a strong children’s chorus that joins the cast in many of the numbers.
TVRT Producer Kathleen Breedveld says “this is the fourth time DREAMCOAT as been staged by Tri Valley Rep”. Directed by the terrific Todd Aragon who has also directed this show in the past brings to the TVRT stage a superb cast of local actors including the powerhouse, Romar De Claro, in the role of Joseph. De Claro who is a veteren in the role says “I love doing this role, I am so close to this character now I feel like it's part of me now, and Director Todd brings some new depth to the role.” De Claro brings an instant charm to the colorful robe that is the banner of this family story. He opens with the song “Joseph’s Coat” and proves impeccable throughout the 90 minute musical.
The story is told entirely through song, and follows Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, as he overcomes many challenges through his honesty and good character. The Biblical story is told by a tuneful Narrator played by the gifted Kristen Torkildosn; she tells us about a loving dad who gives his favorite son a beautiful coat of many colors. Narrator Torkildson has a passionate voice and the ability to sing the story in each of her many solos. Her “Prologue” set a perfect tone to start the show as the tale is told to a group of children on stage. His brothers are completely jealous. The brothers plan to get rid of him, but change their minds. But they sell Joseph as a slave to some passing Ishmaelites, and he’s taken to Egypt. The company sings the hit pop song “Poor, Poor Joseph” as he is off to Egypt. They explain his “death” to their father in the clever number “One More Angel in Heaven.”
Joseph ends up as a slave to Egyptian millionaire, Potiphar, played by the polished Douglas Drake who sings his tale in the pop song “Potiphar”. Everything’s going great until Potiphar’s wife played by the busy choreographer Kelly Krauss Cooper starts hitting on Joseph. Angered, Potiphar throws Joseph in a jail cell. The commanding Drake also plays Jacob and his solo brings depth to the show as he carries the theme of the story. The accomplished entertaining Max DeSantis plays brother Reuben. When Max was a boy he was in the children’s cast, now he charms the audience with his two solos including “Angel in Heaven”. The well-blended sound that Torkildson gets from her ideal Children’s Chorus gives this pop musical its rich charm.
Like many of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows that include Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Aspects, and Sunset Boulevard much of the music is infectious. This score includes parodies of French ballads “Those Canaan Days”, performed by the wonderful Jordan Smith who stops the show with his camp terrific style on stage. Smiths keen voice lifted the sold out Bankhead theatre almost out of their seats.
Other songs include rock and roll “Song of the King”, western “One More Angel In Heaven”, 1920s Charleston “Potiphar”, Calypso “Benjamin Calypso”, and of course the pop disco favorite go-go music. Cooper’s choreography is fun and with this score all over the spectrum on music from pop to country western, the dance was eye catching. The choreography is sizzling as the dance team pulled off the various themes for each number.
De Claro is a studly leading man, and has a sweet quality that made Joseph into a sympathetic, likeable hero. His “Close Every Door” was pitch perfect and shows off his strong tenor voice. The crew features some of the company’s best dancers who also play the brothers; Jordan Smith, Will Schubert, Jarom Nelson, Max DeSantis, Mark Wiesner, Robby Abney, Ryan Ducker, Matt Busbee, Julio Hernadez, Dominic Lessa, including the energetic JD Cerutti as young Benjamin. Director Aragon has included new gimmicks into the show, including a cell phone selfie of the cast taken by Torkildson.
Local favorite Robert Lopez is cast as the Elvis inspired Pharaoh and his “Song of the King” is another show stopper. Lopez’s hip swiveling rock-a-billy sound and expert timing as the King whipped the audience into cheers. Music director Sierra Dee’s seven member pit did an impressive job of supporting, rather than drowning out the performers, especially in the solos. The sound design by Scott Johnson filled the Bankhead theatre with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s varied score.
The costumes bright and colorful are a huge task by costume coordinators Lisa Danz, Lori Gourdine and Breedveld. Joseph’s coat of many colors was bright and I am sure has kept well since the last time TVRT staged this Egyptian story. The wigs and makeup by Michelle Roque are keen especially on the Elvis Pharaoh and women. A wonderful Pharaoh throne is part of Joan Brown’s props that also included the many staffs and Egyptian jewels. Lighting by TVRT vet designer Paul Vega is pop bright and highlighted during the Elvis experience. The stage manager Brian Olkowski and his team Jess Hutchins and Jeannie Jennings have the huge task of wrangling the youth cast and main cast of 40 actors.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is an entertaining show for audiences of all ages. The catchy melodies, great lyrics, eye catching costumes, and amazing singers keep this show bright. “Joseph” is a feel-good musical that the whole family can enjoy. Aragon and Cooper end the show with an eight minute Megamix of dance and songs.
TVRT producer Kathleen Breedveld says “I am so excited to produce our next season! We have just cast our upcoming production of The Fantasticks which will be at the Firehouse Arts Center opening in November and we also are in the process of casting our production of Mamma Mia! which will open in January at the Bankhead- also in the season is Damn Yankees at the Firehouse in April and closing the season with Children of Eden in July 2020”. But in the meantime you have just one more weekend to join Joe and his brothers for a delightful Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber classic and bring your own DREAMCOAT.
Tri Valley Rep’ 36th Season Presents
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber book by Tim Rice
Producer: Kathleen Breedveld
Directed by Todd Aragon
Music Director Sierra Dee
Choreographer Kelly Krauss Cooper
Must Close Aug 4th
The Bankhead Theater
2400 1st Street, Livermore, CA 94063.
Running time: 90 minutes with one intermission
Stage Manager: Brian Olkowski
Photo Credit: Doug Jorgensen
VMEDIA ARTS - GO SEE A SHOW - WITH KAT AND JOHN VISIT WITH THE CAST
Joseph: Romar De Claro*Narrator: Kirsten Torkildson,Pharaoh: Robert Lopez
Jacob/Potiphar: Douglas Drake, Mrs Potiphar: Kelly Krauss Cooper
Rueben: Max DeSantis, Rueben’s Wife/Wailing Wife, Madelynn Crimi, Simeon: Jordan Smith, Simeon’s Wife: Rachelle King, Judah: Will Schubert, Judah’s Wife: Veronica van Ammermaete, Levi: Jarom NelsonLevi’s Wife: Jenna Van Ommeren Dan/Butler: Fr. Mark Wiesner. Dan’s Wife: Jenny Hudson. Napthali: Robby Abney, Napthali’s Wife: Jillian Abney, Gad: Ryan Ducker, Gad’s Wife: Meghan Hornbacker, Asher: Matt Busbee,Asher’s Wife: Michelle Roque.Issachar: Julio Hernandez jr., Issachar’s Wife: Hillary Huff, Zebulon/Baker: Dominic Lessa, Zebulon’s Wife: Michelle Freschi, Benjamin: JD Cerutti, Benjamin’s Wife: Bridget Mayhew ENSEMBLE: Hannah Conner, Oliver Loll KIDS CHORUS: Ava Bizieff, Julianne Hudson, Katelyn Hughes, Kaylee Lopez, Imani Prior, Elena Robuchon, Liam Weir, Kiera Weir, Amy Yang