Art Facts

June 8, 2006

June 15, 2006

June 22, 2006

Colorful musical provides entertainment for whole family

The touring production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," running through the weekend at the San Diego Civic Theatre, is brassy, bold, colorful, swift, hyperactive and silly.

That is, it's perfect for the kids, and adults will likely enjoy themselves, too. Though not a particularly challenging piece of musical theater, the family-friendly Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical starring Patrick Cassidy and "American Idol" finalist Amy Adams features an around-the-world sampling of musical styles, energized dancing and outrageous costumes.

Cassidy is warm and likeable in the role of the dream-interpreting biblical Joseph. Given the titular multicolored coat as a sign of his father's favor, Joseph incurs the envy and scorn of his 11 brothers, who sell him into slavery in Egypt. There he finds a kind master with an even more, ah, "generous" wife. When she offers him the goods (convincingly -- the dancer happens to be Cassidy's wife, Melissa Hurley Cassidy), Joseph gets caught in a sticky "this isn't what it looks like" situation and is thrown into jail.

Eventually, though, the Pharaoh needs the services of a dream interpreter. Joseph correctly deduces the dream's meaning and saves all of Egypt and beyond from starvation. He is ultimately reunited with his brothers, after he plays a little retribution joke on them, thinly veiled as a test of their goodness. Another happy ending.

Cassidy, of that famous family clan, plays the eponymous character with a light touch, bringing much humor to the role. His voice, if not quite as magnificent as his polished abs (mostly bared throughout the performance thanks to loincloth costumes), is nevertheless strong and flecked with emotion when necessary.

As the narrator, in the only female role that isn't merely decorative, Amy Adams gets to show off the gorgeous vocal abilities America became familiar with in the third season of "American Idol." Though she doesn't have much to do on the acting side -- perhaps a smart choice of roles for the theater novice -- Adams' lively personality comes through as she takes us through the story and interacts with its characters.

The talented ensemble lights up the stage with inexhaustible energy in the near-nonstop dance numbers. Comedic standouts include Todd Dubail as a hammed-up Elvis-Pharaoh and Nicholas F. Saverine in dual roles as Joseph's father and his master. One performance highlight was "Those Canaan Days," a hilarious French torch song where the brothers bemoan the bygone good ol' days.

Though the story of Joseph is taken from the Bible, there isn't much religiosity in the show, aside from the mercy-follows-punishment vaguely Old Testament feel of the final scenes. "Joseph," in fact, doesn't ever use the G-word or speak of religious faith. It's way more Vegas glitz than Sunday School lesson.

That's largely thanks to a simple yet shimmering set complete with neon pyramid and moving sphinx, along with dozens of flashy costume changes traversing such styles as French cabaret, cowboy kitsch, Ancient Egyptian loincloth, argyle-crazed golfer and day-glo cheerleader. The music is just as varied, encompassing jazz, rockabilly and country, calypso and pop. Somehow the mishmash of looks and sounds works. The melodies are snappy and hummable, though Rice's lyrics can too often be cutesy or trite.

Par for the course for a show that runs a bit twee. A chorus of local children from the J*Company appear in the show (along with Cassidy's two sons, which he proudly points out) and sit along the sidelines throughout. Their post-intermission reprisal of the first act is about as cute as it gets.

"Joseph" is about 25 minutes of story spun into two hours of performance, thanks to the entr'acte and a part-concert, part-curtain call "megamix" at the end. The show is really all about the razzle-dazzle -- and in that regard, this production doesn't fail.

PROGRAM: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"

Organization: Broadway/San Diego

Tickets: $19-$65

Dates: Through Sunday

Show times: Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 6 p.m.

Location: San Diego Civic Theatre, 202 C St., downtown

More information: (619) 570-1100,

June 8, 2006

June 15, 2006

June 22, 2006