Sunday, April 15, 2018

Faulkner: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Philip Sprayberry, Stephen Elrod, Sam Wallace, Jason Clark South, Angela Dickson.....Marilyn Swears, Randy Foster.....Matt Dickson, Jason Lee, Tony Davison.....Carolyn McCoy -- The 30-year success of the Faulkner University Dinner Theatre is due in large part to the luminaries listed above; and yet, the department is shutting down with its final production: Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's multi-award winning musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

A reliable source of family entertainment for a wealth of subscribers and occasional visitors, and a springboard for graduates seeking professional careers in theatre, the departure of Faulkner's theatre department will leave a significant gap in the Montgomery area arts and education communities.

But, they are going out in style in a version that retains the flavor of the 1960s-1970s youth culture. -- Director Angela Dickson guides a rag-tag group of entertainers who recount the Bible story of Joseph, Jacob's favorite of his twelve sons, his gift of a spectacular "coat of many colors", the brothers' jealousy and their getting rid of Joseph, his rescue in Egypt where he becomes Pharaoh's favorite, and the ultimate reunion of Joseph and his family...all of which is done through song [there's hardly a line of dialogue in the 90+ minute production with masterful accompaniment by Randy Foster].

The able cast is comprised of students, alumni, and community guests, who appear to be genuinely engaged in the action. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and the singing is accomplished in solo and group/production numbers [a continuance of quality that is expected in Faulkner musicals].

Narrative lyrics that contain important expository information are sometimes hard to hear because of sound balance issues or stage action that overpower individual voices, but when they are in sync the result is excellent. Strong singing voices and harmonic blends enliven the lyrics and clearly communicate the plot and themes.

Some highlights are "One More Angel in Heaven" featuring Hunter Smith, Matt Dickson's Elvis inspired Pharaoh, Chris Kelly's leadership in "Those Canaan Days",  and Tony Davison's amusing "Benjamin Calypso".

But, central to the production's success is the character of Joseph in the person of Brandtley McDonald.  The vocal clarity he brings to each number, and the credibility he brings to interpreting lyrics, are the bedrock of the play. He bookmarks the evening with "Any Dream Will Do", and shines especially well in "Close Every Door"...and virtually every moment he is on stage.

And by the end of the evening, patrons leave the theatre happy to have been in company with a group of actors who have shared their talents and their passion for theatre, and who celebrate the thirty year Faulkner program with genuine affection.