Joseph and Technicolor Dreamcoat delivers

The Fox Theatre’s current production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat explodes with energy and excitement. It is a show capable of brightening the audience’s day through its colorful costumes and its triumphant overtones. Joseph is a retelling of the biblical story of a young man whose privileged life is shattered by his jealous brothers, leading to tragedy but ultimately fortune as Joseph patiently endures it all. With musical numbers that range from upbeat to beautiful to incongruously silly, Joseph delivers a musical spectrum as varied as the eponymous technicolor dreamcoat.

Anthony Fedorov, a former American Idol contestant, carries the show as Joseph with his powerful, resonating voice. Opposite him is Janet Metz as the Narrator, who pales in comparison. While her vocal technique is strong, she lacks the powerful voice demanded of her role. Janet Metz has moments of intensity, but they come inconsistently, which is disappointing because the Narrator typically drives the emotion of the musical. Some of the blame for the vocal inconsistency may not lie with Janet Metz, however, because of some recurring audio issues with balancing, static and feedback.

Besides the two leads, the entire supporting cast of Joseph is excellent, especially the children’s choir, who show up everyone else with their enthusiasm. All of the children are from local families, and their constant presence throughout the performance adds to the energy and the grandeur. The cast is already huge, but the children more than double that number, filling the stage with movement and voices. Joseph’s brothers and their wives all excel in their parts as well, and those with solos are especially talented. Tony Lawson as Pharaoh stands out as the best supporting actor in the cast, in addition to having the best entrance. While he doesn’t appear until the second act, his presence dominates the stage.

Even though the premise of Joseph focuses mainly on the bleak circumstances of Joseph’s life, the musical is ultimately triumphant, presenting positive themes of family, perseverance and self-worth. Unfortunately, these themes are slightly undermined by a directorial decision that has Joseph sleep with his master’s wife, causing his enraged master to throw Joseph into prison. In alternate interpretations of the scene by some other productions of the musical, Joseph simply flees the woman’s advances and is accused unfairly. The problem with this production’s interpretation is that it puts the blame for Joseph’s misfortune on himself, completely derailing the message that he is an honest man who perseveres through injustice.

With the exception of the minor technical issues, Joseph is enjoyable on every level. It has a broad variety of upbeat music, numerous funny lines and silly gags, colorful costumes and backdrops, and an overwhelmingly optimistic attitude. Despite a few weaknesses, the Fox Theatre’s production takes advantage of the fun that this show can provide.

Joseph is playing at the Fox Theatre through Sunday, June 26. Shows are at 8:00 PM on Thursday and Friday, 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM on Saturday, and 1:30 and 7:00 PM on Sunday.

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