Cayman Drama Society’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is a dazzling success.
Not only has it smashed all CDS box office records by selling out the entire 11-date run before curtain up on day two; even the extra matinee performance, added due to “unprecedented demand,” was sold out less than an hour after becoming available.
The all-singing musical opened on April 7 and packed a lot into an hour and a half.
An adaptation of the hugely successful Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph features a large cast comprising CDS stalwarts and newcomers. Billed as a family-friendly show, judging by the mood of the audience throughout, the performance certainly lived up to expectations of a fun and feel-good ensemble show.
The production blessed with several chart topping songs such as “Any Dream Will Do,” “Close Every Door” and “Give Me My Coloured Coat” (which some audience members sang along to), also has several lively dance numbers and enough energy and humor (both slapstick and mild double entendre) to please a multigenerational audience. Enhanced by some noteworthy set design and costume choices, the show grabbed your attention – and held it.
Driving the biblical parable with its 23 songs are narrators Wendy Moore and Jennifer La Forge. Both are long acclimatized to the demands of musical theater, and had the vocal range to link set each scene in the two-act musical with aplomb.
Jardel McIntosh, despite last having trod the boards during high school, certainly looked the part as the eponymous hero.
With his clear singing voice and movie star looks (think Brad Pitt meets Chris Hemsworth), the lead actor had enough stage presence to sway the audience. Naïve, vulnerable, wrathful and ultimately magnanimous, McIntosh made a convincing Joseph and increased in confidence as the performance progressed, taking him from a wide-eyed, trusting 17-year-old to a wiser more worldly 30-something.
Joseph’s brothers, their wives, the dancers and the Potiphars rounded out the show with plenty of energy and panache.
Like the coat of many colors, the songs run the gamut of musical styles including French ballad “Those Canaan Days,” rock and roll “Song of the King,” and 70s “Go, Go, Go Joseph.”
The strongest and most nuanced performances of the opening night were those of Arek Nicholson, Michael McLaughlin and Dominic Wheaton, all of whom threw themselves into their parts wringing every ounce of comedy genius from their roles.
As brother Reuben, Arek Nicholson’s standout moment was during “One More Angel in Heaven.” Larger-than-life and with sound comic timing, he led the singing in this rowdy, tongue-in-cheek country music rendition. Accompanied by his brothers and wives whirling about, they sparked laughter from the audience, only for the mood to dramatically shift, not long after such burlesque, to Joseph’s heartfelt and hauntingly introspective “Close Every Door to Me.”
Michael McLaughlin, as Joseph’s brother Judah, also endeared himself to the audience in his rousing rendition of the “Benjamin Calypso.” Surrounded by the rest of the cast including his penitent brothers, McLaughlin brought a lively Caribbean sensibility to the song, which was full of humor and nicely choreographed, echoing the double-dealing that led to Joseph’s fall from grace. An actor equally at home acting in dramas or comedy, he made the song his own.
All this said, the first night show scene stealer was undoubtedly Dominic Wheaton as Pharaoh.
An experienced CDS performer, Wheaton was pitch perfect and played his part to the hilt for laughs. His expansive and charismatic performance very much resembled the posturing of Elvis Presley – another much-worshipped king from Memphis – and had all the swagger, sneer, hair and swivel-hipped grandeur of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Not only was he enjoying himself; the audience was too. Wheaton’s performance of the “Song of the King” and “Stone the Crows” provided the high water mark of the opening night’s performance and had his female slaves and key sections of the audience entranced.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” put together by the “Creative Dream Team” of Juliet Fenn (director), Sophie Gough (co-director and choreographer), Andrew and Beverly Edgington (producers), Beverly Edgington (creative director), Charity Epp (costume and prop design) and Arek Nicholson (musical director), is hitting many of the right notes. Assisted by a diligent army of backstage and front of house support, too numerous to name, the production is an auspicious start to the society’s 2016 calendar.
Although all performances are sold out, fans can try for standby tickets via email at [email protected] In light of the number of recently sold out productions, the public is encourage to check www.cds.ky on a regular basis to see when tickets go on sale.
Budding thespians are called to audition on Monday for the upcoming production of ‘Yes, Minister,’ with the show taking to the stage in September.