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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Beef and Boards’ production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues their 2017 season. This often produced musical (or perhaps it’s an operetta) gets a first class rendering under the direction/choreography of former Joseph tour cast member and B&B regular, Doug King. Kristy Templet is musical director.

This show is one of the most popular Rice/Webber musicals; tens of thousands of school, community and professional productions have been done all over the world. The show’s universal message, energetic music, and family-friendly story make it a favorite for many theatre-goers. Several things set the show apart from many other popular shows. First of all, there is no romantic theme in the show – no boy meets, boy loses, boy gets back girl type storyline. Secondly, the songs are written in a myriad of styles. There is a French ballad, a western tune, a calypso, the famous rock n roll Elvis number, a boppy 60’s piece and even some jazz. Ms. Templet’s accomplished 5 piece orchestra is more than up for the task.

Of course, this is the well-known story of Joseph and his father Jacob from the book of Genesis, in which Jacob favors Joseph over all his other 11 sons by giving him a special coat of many colors. This results in the brothers’ angry reaction of selling Joseph off into slavery. Joseph’s sufferings, and his eventual rise to power (due to his innate ability to interpret dreams) play out in the stage version.

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Tim Wessel stars as Joseph and Andrea Fleming as the Narrator in Beef and Boards’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Director King is blessed to have a really remarkable cast to work with. Tim Wessel plays his self-described “dream role” as Joseph with a dynamic stage presence and exceptional vocal artistry. He is an excellent Joseph in every way! Sharing the spotlight with Wessel is an equally dynamic performer, Andrea Fleming. Ms. Fleming, who takes the role of the Narrator, packs a lot of vocal power in her diminutive frame. Douglas E. Stark, longtime Executive Director of B&B, is featured as Joseph’s father Jacob, and Ryan Neal Green makes his B&B debut as the Elvis-styled Pharaoh in one of the most popular numbers in the show.

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Joseph (Tim Wessel) surrounded by his brothers in Beef and Boards’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

As good as the leads are in this production, and they are exceptional, this is as much an ensemble piece as a vehicle for main characters. The troupe of eleven “brothers” and a smaller band of “wives” are instrumental in a majority of scenes, and are joined the 8 member children’s choir, who also enliven the proceedings.

The changing scenes of the story require actors to play many roles, which leads me to my praise for the astonishing work of B&B costumer Jill Kelly Howe, who may have outdone her Mitty winning turn in the B&B Christmas show with the plethora of incredibly beautiful and appropriate costumes she and her small staff of seamstresses have gathered together. What an amazing job she has done here! I’ll also add praise for Michael Layton’s scenic design (which includes a nifty tri-faced pyramid on the stage revolve) and Ryan Koharchik’s impressive lighting. Sound design by Daniel Hesselbrock completes the tech aspects of the show.

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Pharaoh (Ryan Neal Green) rocks the house in Beef and Boards’ production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

The main feature that cannot be denied in all the work done by the performers in this now classic piece of theatre has to be the endless energy injected into almost all of the 19 or so musical offerings. This is an in-shape group of entertainers, who seem to never stop. The program ends with the unique Megamix segment, which left me wondering just how the group could keep going. It truly is an amazing display of lively and fun stage action.

Bottom-line: Though it’s quite possible you have seen this show somewhere before, don’t miss these talented and inspiring performances. And, of course, as always Chef Odell has supplied good eats (try the Chicken Kiev – my favorite this time!) and the B&B staff cannot be beat for their hospitality.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through March 26th. Show times and reservations can be viewed at http://www.beefandboards.com or call the box office at  317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry

 

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