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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999)


Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber's Classic Family Musical

Following the successful 1998 video release of Cats comes another Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and it's a savvy choice. It hasn't been represented on film before, it's short enough (78 minutes) to present without cuts, and it has the star power of former teen icon Donny Osmond, who played over 1,800 performances across North America. Rather than record a live performance, Cats director David Mallet conceived Joseph as a film, though one that is based strongly on codirector Steven Pimlott's 1991 London revival and relies more on camerawork than venturing beyond its stagelike sets.

Lloyd Webber's first project with lyricist Tim Rice was originally written in 1968 as a school cantata; accordingly, this film uses a framing sequence of a school recital, with an audience of clapping, singing kids and members of the faculty playing the roles. The Old Testament tale of Joseph and his coat of many colors gets a splashy, vigorous treatment with an energetic cast, Las Vegas-style glitz, and catchy, eclectic songs, including "Any Dream Will Do," "Close Every Door," the peppy "Go, Go, Go Joseph," and various bits of country, calypso, and Elvis. Osmond is perfect in the title role, with a strong voice and winning persona, while London stage veteran Maria Friedman performs well in the central role of the narrator. Richard Attenborough appears (and sings a little) as Jacob, and Joan Collins makes a brief, nonsinging cameo.

Joseph certainly isn't revolutionary musical theater, but if you view it as a kids' show, it's a silly good time (though there are poignant moments too). Parents should note, however, that this production might warrant a little discretion due to one suggestive scene and some risqué costumes. ~ by David Horiuchi ~


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