Thursday, August 3, 2017

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Artistry

Recently I moved from the north suburbs to the Twin Cities because I work in Bloomington. Since moving I've been seeing a lot more theatre and I recently saw my first production at Artistry. I had always heard that Artistry performed some high-quality theatre so I was excited to experience it for myself. I sadly failed to see Little Shop of Horrors at Artistry so I was determined to see Joseph.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a very well known musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical, mostly sung-through, is based on the "coat of many colors" story of Joseph from the Bible's Book of Genesis. Joseph is one of 12 brothers and sons to Jacob. After receiving a coat of many colors from his father, the rest of the brothers become jealous of Joseph and he is sold into slavery by them. However, through his story, he goes through a story of rags to riches as he rises to become the Egyptian Pharaoh's royal vizier. The story is also about "overcoming odds and fulfilling one's destiny." *Disclaimer for anyone who hasn't seen this production, it is not a super "churchy/religious" vibe to it, so don't let that stop you from seeing it.

Brandon Jackson as the Pharaoh and the Company
Photo Credit: Devon Cox/Artistry
The set was a fairly basic set and the staging did not include too many props with the exception of a few chairs for some dance numbers. There were about 3 panels on each side of the stage with hieroglyphics on each panel. The panels were white so that the lights that shined on them could easily illuminate the entire panel with a variety of colors, similar to Joseph's coat. The center included a long staircase that went up stage. The costumes were not the traditional costumes you'd see at a production of Joseph. They were a mixture of browns, greys, blacks with an almost grunge/post-apocalyptic vibe to it. I was not a huge fan of the costumes that the company were wearing. At times they felt inconsistent however I do appreciate the risk they took in not designing the traditional Joseph style costumes.

The cast in this production is unreal. The ensemble, known as "the Company," is strong in both acting and singing. There are also a lot of notable members of the company who play other characters including Brandon A. Jackson who plays the Pharoah. He had me rolling with laughter and also roaring with applause and his ridiculously high vocals. The entire company owns the stage with their non stop dancing. Michael Matthew Ferrell does a fantastic job of using a variety of levels on the stage mixed with his choreography.

Jennifer Grimm and John Jamison (Narrator and Joseph)
Photo credit: Devon Cox/Artistry
When it came to the leads let's start with Jennifer Grimm, the Narrator. She was absolutely stunning. I was amazed at the unbelievable amount of control she had in her singing. I could have listened to her riff, sing and belt all night. Hey Jennifer! When is your album coming out? Cause I'm first in line for pre-ordering it. John Jamison was Joseph and let me just His rendition of "Close Every Door" was hauntingly beautiful. The way it was like no other version I've seen. His falsetto gave me goosebumps because it was so beautiful. Plus huge perks to Artistry for casting an African American actor to play Joseph. Jamison is the type of actor that I would go to a show just to see him if he's performing in it. He commands the stage with his presence and commitment to his character through the entire show.

I'm not the biggest fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber or the show Joseph however this production specifically made me a fan. The casting is spot on and it is not the normal Joseph that people are used to. This production runs through August 27th and tickets can be bought here.

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