‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ 

Dec. 4, Arkansas Repertory Theatre

click to enlarge AT THE REP: 'Joseph.'
  • AT THE REP: 'Joseph.'

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” opens with an approximation of a magic trick and that feels appropriate in more ways than one.

The show has the kind of giddy feel you get when you're watching great magic — you're dazzled, confounded and riveted all at once. And magic is the right word for “Joseph” itself. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's musical is a curiously potent trifle — a Biblical story set to simple tunes. It doesn't strive to make a huge point and, what's even more amazing, it isn't necessarily a religious show. Really, you'd have a better chance at hearing the word “God” at the MTV Video Awards.

But it's a musical that audiences love (multiple requests got it back on the Rep's stage) and it's one that performers can adapt to their abilities. The Rep's version is big and bold and sculpted, much like the physiques of its three stars.

As Joseph, Austin Miller comes in trailing a list of TV credits, but crowds will be no doubt wowed when it comes time in the show for “poor, poor Joseph” to be locked in jail without his coat and without a shirt. If Robert Pattison can boost box office with his British goth look, there's no reason Miller's Charles Atlas-like body can't do the same for the Rep.

Besides that, Miller is a charismatic presence on stage with a big voice. The Rep was smart to cast him in the role.

Jenna Coker-Jones is the Narrator, with sparkly eye shadow and biceps that look as if they were built in a lab. She starts the show as a school marm leading the children's choir (the choir wears school uniforms throughout, which is a nice reminder that Webber and Rice's show began life as a middle school exercise) and ends up as a leader of the ever-wilder “Joseph” circus. Todd DuBail, another buff specimen, is all but disguised as Jacob and Potiphar but his Elvis-like Pharaoh is a scene-stealer, navigating a fine line between cheesiness and a jaw-dropping, infectious performance.

Director Alan Souza isn't afraid of cheese; for that you can bathe in the big dance number with the silver wigs, the white ABBA costumes and disco ball. But Souza has a real knack for staging that's fluid, funny and pronounced without being embarrassing. He's helped in great part by Rafael Colon Castanera's astonishing costumes (he ought to win some kind of design award for Jacob's hat alone) and Charlie Corcoran's set design, which has plenty of dazzle, yet isn't the desert done in neon.

This “Joseph” just obliterates any cynical thoughts you might have. The last image, which finds the title character's coat with one more trick up its sleeve, is so surprising and winning that you wouldn't mind seeing “Joseph” back at the Rep as early as, say, next year.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Werner Trieschmann

  • 'Disfarmer': behind the camera

    The strange case of Arkansas photographer Disfarmer, subject of a new play opening this weekend.
    • Sep 25, 2014
  • Live Review: Eric Church and Dwight Yoakam at Verizon

    Apparently Dwight Yoakam’s acting career is sufficiently slack enough that Friday night saw him opening for bro-country kingpin Eric Church at Verizon Arena. Hollywood is taking Yoakam in small enough doses (he has a recurring part on CBS’s “Under the Dome”) that he can lend his considerable talents to country music, which currently can use any kind of flavor it can get.
    • Sep 15, 2014
  • Musical 'Shrek' succeeds, mostly

    If light family entertainment is your speed.
    • Nov 2, 2011
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • An uneven 'Macbeth'

    Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth carries the play.
    • Sep 17, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Theater Reviews

  • Standout acting

    In romantic 'Bridges.'
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Life during wartime

    The Rep updates Homer with 'An Iliad.'
    • Mar 3, 2016
  • A modern Pan

    "Peter and the Starcatcher" adds a modern flair to the Peter Pan story.
    • Jan 28, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Good Weather

    Lakewood pop-up gallery makes a home for art in limbo.
  • Lessons learned

    Picture Bret Bielema pole-vaulting for a minute. Then, once the laughter subsides, hear me out with this absurd analogy.
  • Ken Bonfield comes to The Joint

    Also, Guts Club plays Vino's.
  • White Water hosts a big Mississippi Blues Show

    Also, Red Octopus at the Public Theater, Alcee Chriss III at First Presbyterian Church, Harvestfest in Hillcrest, the Arkansas Times Hog Roast, Wildflower Revue at South on Main and Made By Few in Bentonville.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Lessons learned

    • I think you meant to write, 'Consider for a minute Bret Bielema pole vaulting.' As…

    • on October 20, 2016
  • Re: Good Weather

    • Great article, true words!! Good Weather is an amazing place.

    • on October 20, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation