Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | Stages St. Louis

What a wonderful way for Stages St. Louis to open their 31st season!

Stages St. Louis officially kicks off their 31st season with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic masterpiece, Joseph, and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Congratulations to Stages for 31 seasons of high-quality musical theater that is still going strong. As Executive Producer Jack Lane greeted the audience for this season’s debut show, he was brimming with enthusiasm as he told the audience this is one of his all-time favorites. He also made a comment about how crazy the world is right now and there is something therapeutic about escaping from the mania to commune with others in the theatre community. This statement summed up my entire mental game for the night—while our country lurches from one scandal to the next, I was in need of some mental escapism which Stages provided in abundance with this dazzling production of Joseph.

The story of Joseph is based on the “coat of many colors” from the book of Genesis. The show’s Narrator (Kirsten Scott) serves as the audience’s guide throughout the show. She tells the story of Jacob (Steve Isom) and his twelve sons. While Jacob loves all of his sons, his clear favorite is Joseph (Jeff Sears). As Jacob presents Joseph with a coat of many colors, his other sons become envious of Joseph’s elevated status. The brothers are also tired of hearing Joseph interpret his dreams which foretell him ruling over them all.  The brothers hatch a plan to commit fratricide but instead pawn him off on some merchants heading for Egypt.

Once in Egypt, Joseph is sold into slavery to a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar (Brent Michael Diroma). Mrs. Potiphar (Molly Tynes) lusts for Joseph as she ravishes his body while Joseph protests. Potiphar catches the two in the boudoir and throws Joseph in jail for cavorting with his wife.

While in jail, Joseph meets a butler (Colin Israel) and a baker (Paul Aguirre). He interprets their dreams with a positive outlook for the butler but a doomed tale for the baker. Once the butler is freed, he goes to work for the Pharaoh (also played by Brent Michael Diroma). The Pharaoh is having troubling dreams, so the butler tells him about Joseph’s ability to interpret. The Pharaoh sends for Joseph who predicts seven years of bumper crops followed by a devastating famine. Pharaoh hires Joseph—making him the second most powerful man in Egypt—to see his nation through the upcoming trying times.

The famine reaches Joseph’s family back home, and they head to Egypt once they hear of the success they have had surviving. Unbeknownst to the brothers, they beg their own brother Joseph to be fed. Joseph decides to have a little fun at his brothers’ expense by giving them bags of food in which one has a golden cup.

He stops them before they leave and reveals that one of the brothers stole from him. The other brothers beg for his release, even offering up themselves as ransom. Touched by their selflessness, Joseph reveals who his is and sends for his father. Once his father arrives, Joseph is reunited with his coat of many colors and the story ends on a high note of love and forgiveness.

What a wonderful way for Stages St. Louis to open their 31st season! This family-friendly show is a magical ride full of colorful characters and showstopping performances. With minimal spoken dialogue, the show is sung throughout giving the actors not a moment to rest, vocally. Stages casting team did an amazing job filling the roles for this spectacular show.  

Scott, as the Narrator, was heavenly. Her vocals were superb as she had many memorable performances throughout the production. Scott has such an amazing stage charisma; she absolutely lit up the stage during each of her performances. While this is Scott’s Stages debut, I would expect to see her in many more productions as she absolutely slayed the crowd with her charm and spectacular vocals.

Sears came through in the lead role of Joseph. Like Scott, Sears has an amazing amount of stage charisma which radiated during each of his performances. Even from the back row, the twinkle in his eye and his charming vocals were both easy to admire. Sears is a triple threat with his fantastic vocals, his choreography skills, and his stunning ability to emote.

Diroma, serving double duty as Potiphar and Pharaoh, was royally magnificent. While he served hilarious camp as Potiphar, he nearly stole the show with his monumental performance as Pharaoh. To say he owned his performance as the King is an understatement. Diroma’s performance is unforgettable, hilarious, and totally worthy of a peanut butter and banana sandwich.

The actors who played Joseph’s eleven brothers were all astonishing. Working as a tightly knit group, they all stood out individually and as a group. Much like the nuns in last year’s Sister Act, each one took a moment to shine but also elevated the production by working as a highly skilled and precise ensemble. Each of them deserves individual accolades, but their work as a group is what really made this production sing.

Brad Musgrove really outdid himself with his awe-inspiring costume creations. Dressing a cast this large has to be a challenge, but Musgrove’s attention to detail and use of color kept me gawking from one look to the next. Not to be outdone, James Wolk was equally impressive with his superb scenic design. Bringing Egypt to the stage must have been a daunting task, which Wolk did with creative sets and eye-catching design. Rounding out my technical trifecta, Lisa Campbell Albert once again demonstrated why she is the go-to person for musical direction. Campbell Albert did a flawless job with this wonderful score as each number continually raised the stakes throughout the entire production.

One final nod goes to Director/Choreographer Stephen Bourneuf. Not only did Bourneuf showcase each of his actors’ full potential, he also created some unforgettable dance routines. The large cast numbers such as “Go, Go, Go, Joseph,” “Those Canaan Days,” and “Benjamin Calypso” were all stunning to watch as the large ensemble operated liked a fine-tuned machine. From everyone on stage to all the people working backstage, this production fired perfectly on all cylinders.

Stages’ production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a perfect escape from reality. The story is engaging, the performances are truly spectacular, and the score will stay with you for days. While the real world is full of doubt and anxiety, Tim Rice’s lyrics in “Any Dream Will Do” should give you reason to pause and reflect. Do yourself a favor and grab your tickets to this wonderful production before the box office has a famine itself. | Jim Ryan  

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at the Robert G. Reim Theatre, located at 111 S. Geyer Road, through July 2. For showtimes and ticket prices, please visit stagesstlouis.org.

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