Sunday, December 4, 2011

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (3 reviews)

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opened at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre on November 29, 2011.
This colorful retelling of the story of Joseph, his coat of many colors and his amazing ability to interpret dreams is a musical blockbuster of Biblical proportions! Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s award-winning musical parable features a delightful array of musical styles, from country-western and calypso to bubble-gum pop and rock 'n' roll, entertaining your entire family.
Mark Martino choreographed and directed a cast that included RAndy Aaron, Nathanil Braga, Jeffery Bruce, Carl Draper, April Holloway, Jodie Langel, Julie Kavanagh, Ben Liebert, Ricky Nahas, Dennis O'Bannion, Brian Padgett, Jo Patrick, John Pinto Jr, Kevin Quillon, Nico Ramirez, Mary Elizabeth, Lauren Sprague, and Ryan Williams.


John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The musicians on and off stage provide a wonderfully full sound for this production at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. In the words of Artistic Director Andrew Kato, the seven-piece band does indeed sound like nearly twenty. The Maltz has perhaps made the show even more inviting to some audience members by including a chorus of nearly thirty children in each performance. They actually cast eight choruses of children, and will be rotating these choruses at each performance. Their moments on stage are isolated but valuable ones and, on the night attended, their faces were alive with the joy of being a part of this whimsical production.
Stand-out performances are given by Ben Liebert as Reuben in a very French version of "Those Canaan Days" and a hunky Ryan Williams as the Elvis-like Pharaoh in "Song of the King." A beret-clad Liebert controls both the comic and musical beats of his number admirably all the while rolling his r's and pensively smoking his cigarette. With muscles flexed and oiled, Williams works the audience shamelessly to full affect, and still manages to actually sing the song well and be funny at the same time.
The supporting cast is so strong, in fact, that Jodie Langel as the Narrator is rather bland by comparison. She sings the role well, but we never get a clear concept of her character; and we don't know her any better at the end of the show than we did at the beginning. With an impressive performance resume, it is disappointing not to get to see more of her talent at work in this particular role.
The actor playing Joseph, John Pinto, Jr., is undeniably talented, but directed to seem very, very young—and emotional and mentally rather simple... As an actor he is robbed by the direction he has been given, however, as the juvenile nature of the character so diminishes the anguish of the moment. Joseph never really becomes a man in this version, despite the fact that he would've been about 40 when his brothers came to Egypt... One may assume that the aim was to keep the character and therefore the show as light-hearted and breezy as possible, but there has to be conflict and suffering for there to be a hero.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
By investing an embarrassment of talent, elbow grease, skill and dollars, the Maltz has elevated Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s slight children’s vaudeville into a thoroughly entertaining evening for all audiences.
Director Mark Martino (who headed the Maltz’s sublime Crazy For You) highlights the goofball sensibility such as positing Pharaoh as Elvis leading his wives in a Hound Dog number as if it was presented in a hieroglyphic. The hip-swiveling swaggerer Ryan Williams tosses in asides to the audience like “It’s good to be the king.”
...Martino’s choreographic skills light up the place like premiere night searchlights every time he stages a dance break. For instance, one of the show’s lamest numbers, a country-western spoof  “One More Angel in Heaven,” becomes a show-stopping square dance hoedown. It helps that Martino  has a corps of joyful indefatigable dancers who could power Jupiter for a week if you put them on a treadmill.
John Pinto Jr. as the handsome and often shirtless hero has the storybook charisma and vitality to instantly win over the audience with a grin that frequently seems downright genuine. The surprise is the expressiveness in his mellow tenor when he sings the mournful “Close Every Door.” No winking at the material here.
Jodie Langel (Evita at the Maltz in 2009) is genial company as the E-Ticket Tour Guide with a clarion soprano. Langel displays a confident comfort with the role having played the narrator three times before.
Local stalwart Jeffrey Bruce brings a daffy elan to his roles as Jacob, Potiphar and assorted other worthies.
Credit the members of the band of brothers with standout numbers: dance captain Dennis O’Bannion leading the chorus in the country number, Ben Liebert as the fly-eating leader of the French cafĂ© lament “Those Canaan Days” and Randy Aaron leading the conga line in “Benjamin Calypso.”
In total, fight it all you want. You’re going to find yourself humming the damn score on the way home.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...the Maltz Jupiter Theatre gets the scale just right -- a bit of glitz and flash, offset by winking, puckish charm.

Much of the credit for achieving that balancing act goes to director-choreographer Mark Martino, tapped by artistic director Andrew Kato for the assignment.
And he has strong singing voices, like Langel, who is again impressive following her Maltz debut in 2009 in the title role of Evita. As Joseph, John Pinto Jr. has a wide-eyed innocent look and plenty of lung power, as he demonstrates on his big plaintive ballad, Close Every Door. Ryan Williams earns laughs as the regal, rockabilly pharoah and the ensemble of Joseph’s siblings handles its musical numbers capably, taking turns in the lead vocal spotlight.
The production design is all first-class, particularly Jose M. Rivera’s parade of breakaway costumes, which emphasizes the Las Vegas side of the Bible. Also contributing to the show’s flash is Paul Black’s rock concert lighting. Both designers get to show off one final time in the post-curtain call “mega mix,” a reprise of the score on fast-forward, very reminiscent of Mamma Mia!
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat closes on December 18, 2011.

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