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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

In his program notes, Director Michael J. Lasley writes of his concerns that having produced and directed so many productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, (this is the ninth such iteration by Civic!) he would run out of things to say with the piece. On a parallel track, I have now seen the show 3 times at various venues in just the past year or so, and attended the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s rendition of it with some of the same concerns – what could yet another Joseph say to me? As Mr. Lasley further writes: so much rich material is set into the text and music, his fears (and subsequently, mine) were unfounded.

Indeed, under Mr. Lasley’s inventive guidance, this production of the very popular show simply sparkles and shines, with great performances, imaginative staging, and immense production values regarding set, lighting, costumes, orchestration and choreography. Those technical aspects are an important feature in this edition. Ryan Koharchik imagines and creates a scenic design with great function and an undeniable “wow” factor. Likewise, the costumes designed and coordinated by Adrienne Conces are an eyeful of color and spectacle. Brent Marty has outdone himself with his direction of the astonishing vocal and instrumental renditions set forth here. Finally, the intricate and ingenious choreography by Anne Nicole Beck truly takes that aspect of the show to new and higher levels.

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Logan Rivera (center) is featured as The Pharaoh, on one of Ryan Koharchik’s dynamic stage designs in Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Naturally, a good deal of the production’s radiance comes from the remarkable performances by the talented cast. Dynamic turns by Jacob Butler as Joseph and Katie Stark as the Narrator anchor a splendid ensemble of players who fill the many roles with a very high degree of excellence. Butler plays Joseph with a simple and honest approach. He uses his high quality vocal skills to great advantage, yet never tips away from his straightforward performance choices. Ms. Stark has a pleasingly easy style in her delivery, as well. She handles the Narrator’s almost constant presence in a quite effortless seeming manner, whether she is called on to simply sing us the story or to perform an elaborate dance number. Also noteworthy are Jeff Angel’s fine handling of dual roles, Jacob and Potiphar, and Logan Rivera’s exciting performance as the Elvis themed Pharaoh.

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Jacob Butler as Joseph in his prized coat in Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Whether the action calls for solos (Butler’s rendition of the lament “Close Every Door” is a show-stopper), ensemble vocals (exquiste blendings of voices abound throughout the show), or complex choreographic displays (Daniela Pretorius’ solo “Apache Dance” for “Those Canaan Days” is a special treat), this assemblage of skilled performers go above and beyond – they are all simply great. Every single musical number in this show is done with impressive originality and polish. Even the Children’s Choir, consisting of 16 young performers, receives extended duties in the production team’s inventive format, and each and every member does an outstanding job.

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Katie Stark takes the role of the Narrator in Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Bottomline: This is a wonderful Joseph, especially for those of us who are very familiar with the show and could benefit from an original, fresh, and innovative production. Genuinely dazzling performances by every member of the ensemble, coupled with remarkable production values at every turn, make this a “must-see”.

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The cast performs Megamix in Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat continues at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts through January 7th. For ticket information and reservations call 317.843.3800 or go online at http://www.civictheatre.org .

  • – Photos by Zach Rosing
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