“I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain…” and went to see the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Chanhassen Dinner Theater.
This is the Webber/Rice show that tells the Biblical story of Joseph – in surprising detail – in the form of a musical theater show. Think Les Mis of the Book of Genesis – or Prince of Egypt.
Surprisingly, I had never seen Joseph before, and neither had my companion. Nor had either of us ever been to Chanhassen Dinner Theater before. So we were coming at the whole thing completely new.
(Admittedly, I did used to wake up every morning to “Any Dream Will Do” – but I had never seen the show. So there’s that.)
The show is, frankly, a blast. It’s fun, it’s colorful, it’s exuberant – it will make you want to get up and dance, and leave the theater with a smile on your face.
The wonderful music by the spectacular team of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – the team behind such major stage hits as Jesus Chris Superstar and Evita – sparkles and delights at every turn. This is clearly their “let’s just have fun with it” show – and the music appropriately ranges all over the spectrum, to encompass everything from French chanson, to island calypso, to country western, and even an Elvis impersonation.
The costumes are creative and super-colorful, the choreography spirited and energetic, and the actors look like they are all having the time of their lives. As is, indeed, the audience.
Jared Oxborough as Joseph has just the right mix of wide-eyed innocence and cheery optimism to make for a very credible and charismatic Joseph, and his smooth tenor handles the big-hitter songs beautifully – including the tougher classic hits, like “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door”.
Jodi Carmeli makes for a very capable narrator – bringing that extra bit of exuberance and a warm, friendly presence to the stage, in addition to her very fine, rich voice. And the rest of the ensemble cast fills in very nicely, with some great voices and terrific dancers.
Overall, this is a great, energetic, fun little show, and would make for a great family outing if you’re looking for something fun for the High Holy Days. (Each night, 2 children from the audience are selected by lottery to join the cast up on stage. You have been forewarned.)
“Joseph” is playing at Chanhassen through most of September. It will be followed (in what seems like a rather-themed selection) by Fiddler on the Roof in the fall. [Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for free tickets to Fiddler a little closer to showtime]
A brief note about logistics. Obviously, Chanhassen’s specialty is dinner theater. That means the hall is laid out with dining tables for dinner, and you watch the after-dinner show from the same dinner seats.
If you are primarily interested in the show itself, you would not miss much by getting show-only tickets, and getting dinner somewhere else first. Bear in mind that show-only seats are all part of a balcony above and behind the main seating area.
If you are going for the full Chanhassen experience, be aware that most tables are laid out for 6 (some are 4) – if you are coming with a smaller group, you will make some friends for the evening (think cruise-ship style dining). If at all possible, I would highly recommend getting one of the semi-circular booths, instead of the rectangular tables, as these allow for seating facing the stage (all rectangular tables offer side-seating only). And I can definitely highly recommend the lemon cake – it’s moist, delicious, and very lemony. And like the show, it will also make you smile.
Ticket information from the Chanhassen Dinner Theater website is available here.
Watch a trailer of the production: