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PlayhouseSquare’s production of ‘JOSEPH” will make you a believer

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

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It is always difficult to write a review about a show such as “JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. There should be a first tier set of words reserved strictly for shows of this caliber. Alas, there is no single word that can describe the experience one has in the Palace Theatre while witnessing this production.

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Everything about an Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice show is grand and over scaled. The cast is required to give 120% at all times, the lighting has to be dazzling, the sound perfect, the orchestra capable beyond their means and the set larger than life. It is our good fortune in Cleveland that such is the case. When PlayhouseSquare advertises that “Broadway is coming to Cleveland” (as part of the KeyBank series), this is the show they are talking about. The show is magnificent in all its parts and greater than the sum of those parts.

To begin with you have husband and wife team Diana DeGarmo (Narrator) and Ace Young (Joseph) who capture your heart and imagination of this Biblical story. Add to them an extraordinary cast with such standouts as William Thomas Evans as Jacob, Brian Golub as Reuben, Paul Castree as Simeon and Ryan Williams as the Pharaoh that add more than support, they take the show to an even higher level of entertainment with standout solo performances.

Then there is the music. It covers a huge spectrum of Broadway style show tunes to disco to hip-hop to country western to Elvis to French torch song to Jamaican flavored Calypso to a razzle-dazzle finale spectacular (not to mention some gymnastics and tap dancing added for good measure) that keeps the attention of the audience throughout the performance (fact is the show grips and hold that attention tight for the entire two hours).

Look for four show stoppers during the performance. First is a Country Western influenced “One More Angel in Heaven” featuring Brian Golub as Reuben, Christine Cornish Smith as Reuben’s Wife, Diana DeGarmo as the Narrator and the Brothers. Second is the French Torch Song tinged “Those Canaan Days” featuring Paul Castree as Simeon, William Thomas Evans as Jacob and the Brothers. Third on the list is Ryan Williams doing an amazing Elvis send-up with “Poor, Poor Pharaoh”/”Song of the King” and lastly the show ending “Joseph Megamix” featuring the entire cast that has everyone leaving the theater happier than when they came in.

The show with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on the Biblical story “coat of many colors” and first hit Broadway in 1982. Since then it has become a family favorite and over the years has been performed by over 20,000 schools, amateur theatre groups and professional touring companies. The show features such hits as “Those Canaan Days”, “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door”.

The stellar cast for this production includes husband and wife team Diana DeGarmo as the Narrator and Ace Young as Joseph. It also features Paul Castree as Simeon, William Thomas Evans as Jacob/Potiphar, Brian Golub as Reuben, Will Mann as Judah and Ryan Williams as Pharaoh. The ensemble includes Chip Abbott, Amanda Braun, Jonathan Burke, Claire Camp, Richard Cerato, Vincent D’Elia, Lisa Finegold, Lili Froehlich, Sasha Hollinger, Brandon Hudson, Patrick John Moran, Mark Roland, David Rossetti, Leigh Scheffler, Christine Cornish Smith, Brett Stoelker, Tricia Tanguy, Matthew Tiberi and Katie Whetsell.

Husband-and-wife team Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo first met when they shared the Broadway stage in the 2009 revival of HAIR. “I am so excited to star as ‘Joseph’ alongside Diana,” said Ace. “It’s great to be back! I too am so excited to star alongside Ace in the very role I once looked up to years ago as a child in the choir,” added Diana.

As with all productions of this magnitude, the JOSEPH opening night was not without flaws. There were some problems with the miking, the opening sequence seemed disconnected from the rest of the story (it frankly made little sense to the rest of the story) and it took a couple of numbers for the principle singers to “jell” (they need to hit the ground running). This could have been due to first night nerves as well as only five run throughs before staging in Cleveland. Lastly, the flashing of high beam lights into the audience was a bit much and after awhile became a distraction. These are minor complaints that do not detract too much from the show’s overall impact on the audience. Thus I give it four out of five stars.

On the plus side, the video effects projected on stage, clothing and whatnot was awesome and really added to the show’s appeal. Various scenes were projected that enhanced the overall effect of the song and was quite effective. The set changes were also well thought out and neatly done.

Prude Alert: To begin with, this is a Biblical Story so it is safe to say that this is the show that you bring Aunt Mersel and Uncle Ferd as well as Grandma, Grandpa and all the kids.

Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Prepare yourself to be dazzled by the lights, sound, music, dancing, singing and music of this exceptional performance of “JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in the Palace Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. It is two hours of fun entertainment that will help you put the winter blues on hold for awhile.

Produced by the Independent Presenters Network, the tour features Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt, Costume Design by Jennifer Caprio, Lighting Design by Howell Binkley, Sound Design by John Shivers and David Patridge, Projection & Video Design by Daniel Brodie, Music Supervision by David Kreppel and Music Direction by Wayne Green.

Tickets are now on sale for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” that will be playing through16, 2014, at PlayhouseSquare’s Palace Theatre. Tickets start at just $10 at and may be purchased by going to playhousesquare.org, by calling 216-241-6000 or by stopping at the PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office.
Groups of 15 or more call group sales at 216-640-8600. Performance times are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is part of the 2013-14 KeyBank Broadway Series. For more information on KeyBank, www.KeyBank.com.

This performance engagement is a part of the Smart Seats program at PlayhouseSquare that offers smart entertainment at a smart price. For more information on Smart Seats, visit playhousesquare.org/smartseats.

To enrich the experience of the theatergoers, PlayhouseSquare presents free Broadway Buzz events to complement KeyBank Broadway Series shows. Broadway Buzz Pre-Show Talks, providing behind-the-scenes insight, are held in the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare one hour prior to each performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. On Thursday evenings, guests are invited to stay in the theater for a post-show chat with members of the cast.

Broadway Buzz events also are available for on-demand listening at playhousesquare.org or by subscribing to our podcast, and are made possible by the generous donors and sponsors that support PlayhouseSquare’s not-for-profit mission.

PlayhouseSquare encourages all guests to “Plan Your Visit” ahead of time by visiting playhousesquare.org and clicking the “Plan Your Visit” tab where directions, parking information, dining options, lodging, ticketing policies and other helpful information designed to enhance guest experiences at PlayhouseSquare exist.

Whether their visit is the first or one hundred and first, PlayhouseSquare is committed to making guest experiences both as memorable and hassle free as possible.

PlayhouseSquare is a world-class, not-for-profit performing arts center, arts education champion and downtown developer.

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