Amazing cast, set rock production of `Dreamcoat'

Moonlight Troupers shine in Lloyd Webber retelling of Bible story


November 17, 2006|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,Special to The Sun

The Moonlight Troupers present nonstop, fast-paced entertainment by a rainbow of energetic actors in their new production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The first collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, the 1968 musical based on the biblical tale retains its freshness.

At Anne Arundel Community College's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts, Rob Berry has created a fascinating urban playground set that fully uses the height and width of the stage while providing space for continuous action.

Characters of various ages and races enjoy swings, merry-go-round spins and slides. Later during the show, the set is easily adapted to action occurring in Egyptian and Las Vegas deserts.

Director Gary Adamson's 20-year career has spanned Broadway and beyond as production stage manager and director of such Lloyd Webber shows as Phantom of the Opera and Bombay Dreams along with special events like "Andrew Lloyd Webber's 50th Birthday Celebration."

The show retells the Old Testament story of Joseph, whose 11 jealous brothers sell him into slavery after their father gives him, the youngest and favorite son, a colorful coat. After Joseph is taken to Egypt, his ability to interpret dreams makes him a favorite of the Pharaoh. Famines follow and Joseph is eventually reunited with his father and brothers.

Adamson has assembled a talented and energetic cast of children and adults to handle the musical mix of genres from rock 'n' roll to country-western to calypso. Playing the title role is Greg Bosworth, whose Joseph does justice to his every number while looking as great in his many-colored coat as he does in sackcloth and chains.

Adamson has cleverly cast two Narrators, and Ron Giddings and Alicia Sweeney harmonize with enunciated clarity and gusto. Usually the Narrator is played by a single overworked character who must convey the Biblical story musically, while keeping the action moving.

Among the less demanding roles, standouts include Tom Wilbur, who shows off some great pipes as Jacob, Andre Hinds as Judah, Brendan Leahy as Simeon and Jordan Klein, who lights up the stage with great dance moves in a doubly royal effort as a Pharaoh who resembles Elvis.

In the orchestra pit, retired Navy Cmdr. Raymond Ascione conducts a 10-piece orchestra that brings zest to the lighthearted score that celebrates pop culture.

Kimberly Kandra of AACC's Dance Department choreographs several stylish numbers for an ensemble that includes Suzanne Hasselbusch, Allyson Hogan, Carlie Kidd and others.

Unforgetable as Lola in 2nd Star's Damn Yankees two seasons ago, and as Rosemary in that company's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, dancer Hana Thornhill turns up here as dancing brother Naphtall, uttering a single meaningful "Oy."

An eclectic music mix adds to Dreamcoat's variety, with homage paid to Harry Belafonte in a catchy "Benjamin Calypso" and to country-western tunes in "One More Angel in Heaven," probably the show's best tune.

The mix includes a romantic nod to French cafe music as Joseph's brothers toss off French phrases and plenty of accent in their fun rendition of "Those Canaan Days."

Adding their own musical magic is a children's choir made up of Kent Heckel, Jeniqua Hunt, Carson Kirchner, Jack Longansmith, Carlton Moody, Waltron Moody, Madison Oulette, David Ruth, Michaela Vernon and Jessica Waterman.

Barbara Marder, AACC performing arts department chairman, receives high marks for her costuming expertise, and box office manager Joy Ajello deserves kudos for creating Joseph's many-colored coat.

This show is entered in the 2006 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, where it seems as deserving of an award as the Naval Academy's exciting Streetcar entry, also reviewed on this page.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" continues at 8 o'clock tonight and tomorrow. There are 2 p.m. matinees tomorrow and Sunday. AACC staff and students pay $8. Other tickets cost $15 for general admission, $12 for senior citizens, groups, children and students. 410-777-2457.

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