He's back..."Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", the nearly half-century old story, has returned in a new guise to the Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences. The well-crafted, kid-friendly production has, in a sense, returned to its 1968 roots when Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice presented it for the first time as a 20-minute pop oratorio in March of that year at a London boys school. By the end of 1968, Webber and Rice had lengthened the oratorio to 30 minutes.
The show, that would eventually become "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in 1974 when the pair transformed it again--this time--into a full-length production, has traveled an amazing journey. Over the years, Joseph, has been performed at London's Saint Paul's Cathedral; on Broadway; at the London Palladium and around the globe with an impressive run at the Chicago Theatre in 1993 with the then 35 year-old Donny Osmond as Joseph.
The Marriott Theatre's "Joseph" which opened this week and will run through May 12th is a fast-paced one-hour show followed by a lively Q & A session. This is not the highly-staged Donny Osmand/David Cassidy Joseph. Instead this is feel-good kids' entertainment that's geared to a young person's attention span--yet enjoyable for adults. The no intermission "Joseph" has an energy and simplicity that cuts to the chase.
The sparse set, borrowed and reinterpreted from the evening show, Legally Blonde, lets the story shine. The simple costumes consisting of blue jeans, wrist bands, an occasional hoodie and, of course, an amazing technicolor dreamcoat that comes complete with dazzlingly lights operated by remote control--works perfectly.
The show has been updated for today's audiences with contemporary personalities including a Justin Bieber lookalike and a hilarious Donald Trump clone. The sons from the original Joseph are now played by male and female actors. And the "amazing" Joseph", the young and talented Brian Bohr, is an age-appropriate Joseph with a special charm that radiates throughout the house. The non-stop music with an assortment of instruments keeps the pace lively with something for everyone.
Joseph is taken from the biblical story of Jacob and his 12 sons. Joseph, the son of the patriarch Jacob, receives the gift of a multicolored coat from his father making his "brothers" so jealous they sell him into slavery. At first times are rough for Joseph but with his special powers to interpret dreams he finally advances to second in command in Egypt. He saves the nation from famine and later, when Joseph’s starving "brothers" journey to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan and beg for food-- they don't recognize Joseph. However, eventually Joseph reveals his identity and there is a joyful reunion between him and his brothers.
The entire cast is delightful with crowd-favorite Bernie Yvon, introducing the show, heading the Q & A and playing multi-roles. Susan Moniz does a superb job as the Narrator. The cast also includes Jameson Cooper, Jed Feder, Alan Schmuckler, Brandon Springman, Sophie Grimm, Allison Lind, Natalie Myre, Tiffany Topol, Lara Filip, Nate Lewellyn, Christopher Logan, Kelly Maier, Patrick Martin and Rob Riddle--with many playing multiple roles.
Aaron Thielen is the Lead Artistic Director, heading the artistic team for JOSEPH…with Direction and Choreography by Matt Raftery, and Musical Direction and Musical Arrangements by Ryan T. Nelson. Sound Design is by Bob Gilmartin, Properties and Set Design by Mollie Slattery, Costume Design by Nancy Missimi, Lighting Design by Jared Moore and Jeff Bell is Conductor.
My 4-year-old guest, Lilly, who has some acting chops under her belt including Sound of Music and has attended other live theater events, sat on the edge of her seat fully engaged for the first 45-minutes becoming a little restless near the end. Afterwards, when I asked for her review, she said she would recommend the show for ages 6 or 7 and up, adding, that if a 4-year-old went with her whole family it would be a fun outing.
If you are bringing a young child you may want to preview the story for them before attending. Lilly did not know what a famine was, or recognize Donald Trump--but instantly knew the Justin Bieber character. She also asked why the "brothers" didn't have a mama.
Tickets and Performance Times.
Performances for JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT run most Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10 a.m., plus added performances March 27th, 29th, and 30th at 12:30 p.m. Single ticket prices are $15 per person (plus tax and handling fees) and can be purchased by phone or in person at the Marriott Theatre Box Office or online at Ticketmaster.com. Groups of 20 or more are only $10 per person and available by calling the group sales department at 847-634-7030. 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, Phone: 847-634-0200.
Ample free parking is available for all shows on several lots adjoining the theatre.
There are many dining choices nearby along Milwaukee Ave. from fast food to full-service restaurants. The Fairfield Inn at the Marriott Resort offers lunch or breakfast after the 10a.m. performance. I recommend The Good Start Buffet that offers an all-you-can eat variety of choices including, cooked to order eggs, by Marie, waffles, french toast, fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, yogurt, breakfast meats, breads, pastries, and juice and coffee. Adults: $17; children $8.