BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
CENTERVILLE — Joseph’s name may be in the title, but the real stars of the show are behind the scenes.
Director Alane Schultz and her crew put together what is easily the most imaginative, whimsically delightful version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” I’ve ever seen. Running now through March 30 at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, the show has loads of charm, sly jokes, and a willingness to incorporate the youth chorus in wildly inventive ways.
The show, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, essentially re-imagines the biblical story of Joseph of Egypt as a musical comedy with tunes ranging from country to calypso. Schultz adds another level by staging the entire thing as a living storybook, playing out in the imaginations of the children who are listening to it.
Her real stroke of genius is in fully incorporating the youth chorus into the story. Instead of just wandering onstage to sing at various points, the kids do everything from playing small but important speaking parts to acting as the scenery in various dreams. In one hilarious scene, the kids wrestle with Joseph’s brothers over symbolically significant ears of corn.
The story essentially becomes the kids’ playground, giving everything a spirit of fun that extends to several other aspects of the production. Choreographer Kristi Shaw infused every dance number with some wonderful touches and set up an extended dance joke that had me laughing for several minutes. Costumer Lisa Ohliphant managed a new and envy-inducing twist on Joseph’s famous coat, while set-designer Eric Ohliphant made the set both fun and multi-functional.
Leading the opening night cast, Chandler Newsome played Joseph as if he were in on the joke. From funny, wordless asides with the narrator to his interaction with the kids, Newsome offered an entertainingly angst-free Joseph.
As the narrator, Nicole Burton was always fun, flirty and in command of any situation.
The singing is by and large not up to the standards of previous CPT productions, though Burton was excellent. Nathan Gates also had a strong performance as Rueben, and Jordan C. Johnson’s vocal impression of Elvis Presley was delightful.
For tickets or more information, call 801-298-1302 or visit centerpointtheatre.org.