The only previous encounter I can recall with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was about eleven years ago in a high school religion class. Watching the movie again really should have been like a new experience. Instead, I found it was surprisingly familiar.
Joseph, of course, retells the Biblical story of Joseph and his eleven brothers, who sell him into slavery for the crime of being their father’s favorite. With his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph rises to greatness in Egypt. Because this is Webber, there’s a lot of music and production numbers along the way.
Possibly most striking about the play was the Andrew Lloyd Webber-ness of it all. It’s impossible not to compare it to the 1970s film of Jesus Christ Superstar–the mix of ancient and modern, mostly minimalist sets, flashy lights, over-the-top costumes, and…well, forget breaking the fourth wall, there pretty much wasn’t one.
The movie somehow has a similar feel while being very different in tone. I find JCS to be both insightful and dramatic. Joseph didn’t bring much new insight to the story, and it was almost never serious (with the exception of when Joseph first lands in the Egyptian jail, and sings “Close Every Door”).
But if not dramatic, it is a fun production. Twelve brothers means plenty of production numbers, with many songs played for humor. Meanwhile, Pharoah and his court are channeling Elvis. My favorite songs were “Any Dream Will Do” (which I already knew, thanks to a Michael Crawford CD) and the lovely “Close Every Door.” Apparently the soundtrack has sticking power, as many songs felt remarkably familiar for something I haven’t heard in eleven years. Funny how songs live at the back of your brain somewhere.
This musical seems to be targeting a younger audience than most Webber plays–after all, the frame is about telling the story to a group of school children. At least, I would assume it was a younger target, except for all the scantily-clad dancers, and that Donny Osmond spends half the movie shirtless–which at least distracts from his very silly wig. 🙂 He rises above the wig, though, and does a very nice performance.
All in all, I don’t see it being a new favorite but it’s definitely another good light-hearted musical. And I bought “Close Every Door” on iTunes.