Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat by Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, PA
March 21, 2017
Marissa Emerson of Upper Merion Area HS
With a stage as colorful as the infamous coat itself, Cardinal O’Hara’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat put their talented cast on a fantastical, rainbow display as they told the tale of Joseph, a man with an incredible gift.
Joseph’s treacherous travels are kick started by his eleven brothers’ attempted fratricide and further rancorous betrayal, selling him into slavery in Egypt. The brothers’ hatred stems from jealousy, as Joseph not only has brilliant dreams, but the ability to interpret them as well. Based on the Biblical book of Genesis, this operetta has a powerhouse score indebted to one of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first joint attempts at producing a musical.
From the first notes, the ensemble’s innocent tonality and strong projection, reminiscent of a heavenly choir, pleased ears, presenting tight harmonies, crisp diction, and clean cut offs. Stand outs Ryan Jewell (Reuben) and Robert Griswold (Levi) lead numbers “Those Canaan Days” and “One More Angel in Heaven” respectively with an over-the-top theatricality that showed off the immaturity of their characters. From flailing arms to wailing voices to ridiculous poses, the Brothers ensemble snatched laughs with their natural comedic cadence and stage presence.
Playing titular hero Joseph was senior Thomas Dempsey. Clad in his technicolor coat, Dempsey wowed with his tender, honest vocals and purity in both his tonality and character work. “Close Every Door to Me” featured Dempsey’s clear voice delicately supported by the pitch-perfect open chord harmony provided by the ensemble. But the talents of this leading man didn’t cease there. Dempsey’s chest heaved as his heartbreaking story unfurled before bedazzled eyes. His total investment in the role made each emotion he projected capture his body and paint pictures from joy to strife across his face.
Narrators Brittany Clifton, Grace Grassi, Kristina Goldhorn, and Melissa Goldhorn elucidated plot points with fluttering falsettos and brassy belts. In a role originally written for a man, this fierce foursome tackled every note with a sense of confidence only found in seasoned, well-rehearsed performers.
The sound crew’s work balancing actors’ microphones with the pit was well done. Lines lost in the show’s excitement were still well portrayed through actor physicality.
A glittering success, Cardinal O’Hara’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was a spectacular showcase of some of the best high school talent in the area!
Grace Willey of Unionville High School
What do you get when you combine eleven angry brothers, a millionaire named Potiphar and a Pharaoh who enjoys Elvis impersonations? Why, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, of course. Cardinal O’Hara High School embraced this comical and uplifting musical and wowed the audience with their precision and energy.
The musical, which premiered in 1970, is based on the story of Joseph’s coat of many colors from the Bible’s book of Genesis. It follows Joseph, the dreamer, and his adventures. The Andrew Lloyd Webber classic has entertained audiences for decades, and captivates audiences of all ages with its universal themes and catchy songs.
While most productions experience a slight dip in energy following intermission, it seemed the cast doubled their already high level of energy in the second act. From the costumes to the sets to the cast, everything was spot on. Even the smallest details of the show were thought through and seamlessly executed.
At the core of the show was Joseph, beautifully portrayed by Thomas Dempsey, who swept the audience off their feet from the moment they entered the theater. Other standout performances included the narrators, Brittney Clifton, Grace Grassi, Kristina Goldhorn and Melissa Goldhorn. The girls had a particularly difficult task given that the narrator was played by a man in original productions. Furthermore, the director split one part between three actors. The four narrators melded and played off each other perfectly. Their dynamic was genuine and it was a refreshing take on a well-known character.
The very large ensemble kept their energy up throughout the entire show; they supported the leads without detracting from them. Additionally, Joseph’s eleven brothers were a hilarious bunch who worked very well together. Specifically Reuben (Ryan Jewell), Levi (Robert Griswold) and Judah (Dylan Rooney) each had impeccable comedic timing with their featured songs. Lastly, although she was only in one scene, Mrs. Potiphar (Bryanna McEvoy) was hilarious in her solo dance number.
The sets, although static and minimal, were fitting to the show and added to the colorful, bright nature of the story. Similarly, the costumes were well made and added to the production value immensely. Lastly, stage manager, Victoria Pappas, did her job well, with no mishaps or errors on the part of stage crew.
Overall Cardinal O’Hara’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was memorable and left the audience energized and excited, as all musical theatre should.