AISLE SAY San Francisco


Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by Alex Perez
Presented by Broadway By the Bay
San Mateo Performing Arts Center
600 N. Delaware St., San Mateo / (650) 579-5568

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyricist Tim Rice, wrote "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in the '60s, a long, long time ago when one considers all that has happened to Webber and to society since then. However, the show still feels fresh and young in the hands of Broadway By the Bay, which is staging a rousing production under the skilled direction of Alex Perez.

The two-hour musical tells the Old Testament story of Joseph (Robert Brewer), the favorite of Jacob's (Craig Jessup) 12 sons. After Jacob gives Joseph a beautiful multi-colored coat, Joseph's jealous brothers sell him to passing traders who take him to Egypt to become a slave. His life there is difficult until his ability to interpret dreams wins him Pharaoh's (Jessup) favor, and eventually he and his brothers are reconciled.

The story is related by the Narrator, played by the engaging Natalie Amaya. A newcomer to BBB, she's both poised and dynamic with a bright soprano voice that easily handles the role's vocal demands. The show is almost entirely sung, with musical styles ranging from rock and disco to calypso and country western. The choral work is some of the best BBB has produced, thanks to musical director Pat Parr, assisted by Nikki Murgo, who directs the polished onstage chorus of about three dozen youngsters and plays one of the wives.

And once again the dancing by both the men and the women is simply terrific, thanks to co-choreographers Berle Davis, a veteran of 29 BBB seasons, and Robyn Tribuzi, who also plays Mrs. Potiphar. Some standout routines include "Joseph's Dream," "Angel in Heaven," "Go, Go Joseph" and "Calypso."

Joseph's 11 brothers are played by a terrific male ensemble: Coley Grundman, DaRon Lamar Williams, Chris McHugh, Gary Stanford, Shannon Sparks, Matthew Ferretti, Zach Trimmer, Larry Quinto, Kevin Stanford, Shaun Repetto and Daniel J. Harper.

Their wives are played by Murgo, Jennifer Martinelli, Jennifer Seguin, Amanda Dieck, Hilary McQuaide, Kateri McRae, Kathryn Hart, Morgan Mallory, Brandy Collazo, Katie Blodgett and Dominique Bonino.

The sets are from The Set Company, the colorful costumes from The Theater Company. The dramatic lighting is by Michael Ramsaur, with sound by Sound on Stage.

Perhaps what's most memorable about this production -- as if the singing and dancing weren't enough in themselves -- is the high energy level of this mostly youthful cast. That's especially notable since most of the costumes appear to be heavy and the reviewed performance was a hot Sunday afternoon in a theater that doesn't have air conditioning. Nevertheless, the pace never slackened, and the outstanding performances kept one's mind off the temperature. In fact, the show seemed to end too soon -- it was that much fun.

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