From the two-time META-winning theatre company that brought “Hairspray” and “The Producers” to Montreal audiences at the Centaur and the Segal (Outstanding Community Production, 2015 and 2016) comes a bright and sprightly new stage spectacle this summer for audiences of all ages on the spectrum.
Based on the tale of the “coat of many colours” in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is the celebrated 1970 musical by the composer-lyricist Broadway dream team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, here revived with signature flair by The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society. Helmed by CSLDS Artistic Director Anisa Cameron, the charismatic production notably features a kaleidoscopic cast and chorus of 39 performers, a tight 4-piece band aptly led by Musical Director Nick Burgess, and effervescent choreography by Alexia Gourd. A young man sold into slavery by his jealous brothers isn’t exactly the most obvious starting point for a joyous musical, but “Joseph” proceeds to uplift at full length.
Luminously leading the fully sung-through affair is Sam Boucher as the eponymous Joseph, whose sublime, standout vocals make torch song “Close Every Door” an emotional and musical highpoint of the evening. Of a collectively inviting presence, Nicole Arrage and Jeanne Motulsky symmetrically share the role of Narrator. Among the more memorable appearances is also that of Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who here does commendable double duty as Joseph’s father, Jacob, and as the money-hungry Potiphar.
Lloyd Webber and Rice’s flavourful score serves a wide selection of genres to appease all palates and to showcase the talents of featured ensemble members: there’s country twang in Reuben’s “One More Angel in Heaven”, performed with arresting charm and relish by Craig Dalley; then, Marc Ducusin brings the Elvis swivel and panache in Pharaoh’s “Song of the King“; a humorous Jacques Brel knockoff, Simeon’s “Those Canaan Days” has a commanding Kenny Stein at the reins; and, delighting us to a Jamaican reggae is Justin Johnson as Judah in “Benjamin Calypso”.
Perhaps the most resplendent of on-stage presences, however, is that of the hued supporting chorus of adults and children. The Côte Saint-Luc troupe are renowned for the polish and professionalism of their work – and for consistently upholding that standard of quality and achievement from creation to creation (as evidenced by consecutive META nominations). “Joseph”, however, eloquently finds the delicate balance between striving for excellence and embodying the inclusive spirit of community theatre, resulting in a wholly disarming, guileless, and endearing production.
With more experimental versions of “Joseph” abound, the CSLDS furthermore succeeds in bringing a tincture of class to the show’s inherent camp, culminating in a tasteful, thoughtful composition (a nod to costumer designer Elyse Malo, lighting designer Linda Babins, set/prop designer Rachel-Anne Germinario, and other creatives for the coherency in aesthetics). There’s razzle-dazzle and rock-n-roll, but, in complement to Boucher’s own subtle, virtuous portrayal of the titular character, this “Joseph” is of a refreshing integrity, classicism, and modesty.
With its timeless story, hugely hummable tunes, and powerful messages of hope, faith, and forgiveness, the nearly-50 year old musical has yet to go out of fashion, and CSLDS’s rendering is as sharp and neatly pressed as it comes. Nothing in local theatres this season could be more colourful (or less offensive). The production runs at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium through June 17th.
The Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society presents
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
When: May 30th – June 17th, 2018
Venue: Harold Greenspon Auditorium
(5801 Cavendish Blvd, Côte Saint-Luc)
Admission: $32.00 – General Admission
$28.00 – Seniors, Students, QDF Members
Box Office: www.csldramaticsociety.com/joseph
Or in person at the Aquatic and Community Centre
and the Côte Saint-Luc Public Library