by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
Presented by Turtle Lane Playhouse
Directed and Choreographed by Rachel Bertone
Music directed by Daniel Rodriquez
The music of Andrew Lloyd Weber has a way of wheedling its way under your skin and pulling on the most protected of heart-strings. Tim Rice’s words and lyrics are like poetry. This is true still of Turtle Lane’s production of Joseph the 2nd to last production for this Playhouse before the doors close forever. It’s a damn shame, their productions are touching and their outreach is vast. This is a community theater production with all the trappings of community theater but it is strikingly good. Those expecting it to be a different beast will be disappointed. Those anticipating a friendly night of theater will be happily surprised by the quality of the local music, dancing and costumes.
When Webber and Rice adapted the biblical story of Joseph and his many-colored coat for the stage most likely they did not anticipate the endeavors of a small theater like Turtle Lane. The stage is quite small but the direction and choreography of Rachel Bertone lends itself well to a smaller space. Her creative use of the space by weaving dancers through actors and children was like looking through a kaleidoscope of motion and color.
The children’s chorus was one of the most pleasantly surprising elements of the evening. Community theater with a familial bent tends to employ as many children in its productions as is spatially possible. Small children on stages means adult butts in seats regardless of performance quality. The quality of the children’s chorus is unquestionably good. Their choreography was engaging, the children sang well and have been taught respect for the stage. Their presence enhanced the production and was not merely a marketing ploy. Congrats kids, you were great and the child wranglers of this production deserve an award and a free round at the bar.
The adult actors were similarly well-behaved. Joseph’s brothers, although touched with a case of Nice Guy Syndrome (just because one says they are nice doesn’t make them a nice person) were a merry band of villains. They had an impressive camaraderie on stage and their musical numbers had show-stealing moments. “Those Canaan Days” is particularly noteworthy for its faux-French gravitas. The soloist was superb and it was also the only group number to have concise, unanimous vocal cut-offs.
Peter Mill (Joseph) and Kyle Carlson (Pharaoh) were sheer entertainment in their roles. Figuratively, they killed it.
Lastly, Joseph is a family show but it does feature some more mature themes. If parents are uncomfortable explaining the more mature portions (sexy dancing) of this production, I anticipate that these same parents will have an even more difficult time explaining the basics of puberty later. It isn’t provocative if one has basic cable or eyes to see other adults in the world. Please prepare for this theatrical treat accordingly.