Theater review: ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ by Flat Rock Playhouse

GOSPELS MEET GLITTER: This fun rock opera hardly catches its breath as it breezes through the tale of young Joseph, who is gifted with the ability to interpret dreams.
GOSPELS MEET GLITTER: This fun rock opera hardly catches its breath as it breezes through the tale of young Joseph, who is gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. Photo by Treadshots Photography

If you like your Old Testament tales with a 1970s-era kitschy pastiche of go-go boots and more gold lamé than the Solid Gold dancers, Flat Rock Playhouse has the perfect raucous confection to sate your appetite. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s now-classic Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is onstage through Sunday, Aug. 20.

This fun rock opera hardly catches its breath as it breezes through the tale of young Joseph, who is gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. He is beloved by his father (who bestows him with a coat of many colors) and less so by his 11 envious brothers. Their jealousy leads them to trick Joseph and sell him into slavery. In spite of biblical origins, the show takes a secular approach, borrowing from musical styles such as stadium rock anthems, country music and hip-hop.

In Egypt, Joseph is sold to Stephen Sheffer’s Potiphar. Sheffer brings a hint of Jim Morrison performing Meat Loaf covers at a dominatrix club. Joseph catches the eye of Potiphar’s wife (seductively played by Maddie Franke), which gets him imprisoned.

Lance Bordelon not only carries the show with charm but spends the majority of it shirtless as Joseph. His constant onstage co-star is a narrator, who — as the audience’s omniscient guide — keeps the nearly two decades of the story unfolding. Jessica Crouch is stellar in the role, with an incredible vocal range. A large and multiracial ensemble of nearly 50 fills out the drama.

In Act 2, a show-stopping, hip-shaking number has Scott Treadway’s Pharaoh wearing a massive Elvis wig that almost deserves its own billing. When Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and forecasts years of prosperity followed by famine, he finds himself appointed to great power to help Egypt weather the difficult years ahead.

Joseph’s brothers realize the error of their ways in the number “Those Canaan Days.” It is a crowd-pleasing sequence, allowing Jose Luaces (as Rueben) to shine alongside the other 10 brothers. They find their way to Joseph, who must choose between revenge or forgiveness. This leads to a calypso number by the brothers, pleading for mercy.

Amy Jones has directed and choreographed the show with attention to every detail. There isn’t a moment in the show that is not perfectly designed. Dennis Maulden‘s set is such a fine-tuned piece of work that it looks like an elaborate rock concert stage. Pyrotechnics would not be out of place. Ashli Arnold Crump’s costumes are intricate and span from elaborate wigs and headpieces to dozens of pairs of the aforementioned go-go boots. Many cast members play multiple roles, calling for more than 100 costumes.

All of the parts come together in a magical, mystical feat of precision that, while expected from Flat Rock, still amazes.

WHAT: Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
WHERE: Flat Rock Playhouse, 2661 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock
WHEN: Through Sunday, Aug. 20, with performances Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. with matinees Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. $15-$50

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About Jeff Messer
playwright, actor, director and producer, Jeff Messer has been most recently known as a popular radio talk show host. He has been a part of the WNC theatre scene for over 25 years, and actively works with and supports most of the theatres throughout the region. Follow me @jeffdouglasmess

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One thought on “Theater review: ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ by Flat Rock Playhouse

  1. Jake

    Glad to hear this is a successful production, and I hope folks will attend despite the show’s dreadful TV ads.

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