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The Mass Media

The Lighter Side of Fratricide

Joseph struts his stuff in his coat of many colors in the Boston Children Theatre´s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. - Photo by Valeria LaCount
Joseph struts his stuff in his coat of many colors in the Boston Children Theatre´s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” – Photo by Valeria LaCount

The Boston Children’s Theatre is back at UMass Boston with a version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” that played Sunday, April 18 in the McCormack Theatre. Ellen Parker, president of BCT’s Board of Trustees, opened the matinee show with a few words about BCT’s mission, “To present live plays for children, by children.”

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” takes a “lighter approach to fratricide,” as the lyrics purport. Joseph (Jake Zentis), the protagonist, gifted interpreter of dreams, and something of a goody two-shoes, is one of twelve brothers and the favorite of his father, Jacob. Jacob demonstrates his love by giving his saintly scion a “coat of many colors.” To his own detriment, Joseph shows off his new threads.

Sibling rivalry being what it is, Joseph’s brothers take him out into the desert, tearing his coat to shreds, and at first decide to kill him. Instead, they sell him into slavery but cover the coat in goat’s blood, telling their father that Joseph was torn to pieces by a lion. Joseph spends a number of years in slavery under the thumb of a ruthless pharaoh. Needless to say, there was a happy ending, but not without Joseph playing a nasty trick on his own brothers, which I won’t give away.

The adult tale pulls its punches, playing down certain violent elements with music and well-choreographed dancing. It still ranks as one of the odder musicals out there, Elvis in Egypt, beret-clad shepherds with faux French accents, and the entire crew dancing the calypso. The ever-changing variety of costumes and themes made this show entirely suitable for the attention span of children, even if the story itself comes off somewhat lofty.

However, components of the story were often lost as was some of the clever wordplay of lyrics because the voices were inaudible or enunciation took a back burner to choreography. Though enjoyable, the voice of the narrator (Branigan LaCount) was noticeably wearing out towards the end of the first act, understandable with the near constant barrage of song that a musical like this requires. Yet, the audience would have been better served had she been using a microphone instead of relying solely on projecting to a theatre that was near full capacity. Those of us in the back were straining to even hear a majority of what was going on. Most of Potiphar (Alex Starr) was unfortunately lost to anyone not within immediate earshot.

Bizarrely enough, LaCount also appeared onstage with a camera, coming out of character completely to take shots that could’ve been done at another time without needlessly distracting the audience. Publicity photos should be taken during dress rehearsals or by someone other than a cast member in the middle of a performance.

Though the quality of this performance wasn’t up to the usual standard of the Boston Children’s Theatre, it is still a worthwhile experience for anyone with kids. The show will be running from April 21-25 at 2pm. Call (617) 424-6634 for ticket prices and other information.

About the Contributor
MiMi Yeh served as arts editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2001-2002; *2002-2003; 2003-2004 *Evan Sicuranza served as arts editor for Fall 2002 Disclaimer: Years served is based on online database and may not detail entire service.