The current Hale Center Theater Orem production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” begins with the narrator and some ushers “randomly” choosing 12 audience members to star in the show. Coincidentally, the chosen ones’ names are already listed in the program.
I have two theories on why this concept — which does not play heavily in Syd Riggs’ directorial vision of the show beyond the first couple minutes — was used:
1) To symbolize the fact that we’ve seen this show so many times, they really COULD select random audience members to perform it. I imagine it being akin to the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screenings, where fans show up in costume and act out their favorite parts. (Wait, that’s actually not a bad idea. Don’t steal it.)
2) To give viewers a means of differentiating this “Joseph” from the others they’ve seen. (“Hale Theater? 2001? Oh, right, the one where they pulled the guys out of the audience.”)
Because aside from that, this one’s no different from the myriad other “Josephs” Utah has seen in the past six years — and that’s not a criticism. As written, it’s a funny, fast-paced show with catchy tunes and pleasantly simple moral themes. This production is no less amazing nor Technicolor than its predecessors.
The lead roles are double-cast, but they do not follow a simple Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday rotation. If a particular performer tickles your fancy, it may be best to call the theater to determine when he or she will be on stage.
Justin Utley (double-cast with Jason Celaya) is a fine Joseph: great voice, a tan and hairless body, not overly smiley. He has a great stage presence, helping us like a character that is tragically under-written. (Joseph never acts in this show; he only reacts. Not that it matters, but technically, this makes him a bad protagonist.)
The brothers are all similarly likable, and a few get their moments in the spotlight. Kevin Goertzen is funny in “Those Canaan Days” (which also benefits from some amusing tin-cup percussion); Alberto G. Oquendo leads a peppy “Banjamin Calypso.”
The costumes are impressive, as they nearly always are at the Hale. This is a show that thinks nothing of having the entire cast change costumes just for one number, and it pays off. The fashion nightmares in “Go, Go, Go Joseph” are priceless.
Cody Hale’s musical arrangements are good, and the recordings are top-notch. Jenny Giauque’s creative choreography makes effective use of the limited stage space. The musical direction, by Rob Moffat, is stellar, not to mention amazing and Technicolor.
Should you go? Yes. First-timers and old fans alike will find much to enjoy in this light-hearted, family-friendly show.
The more times I review this show (this was No. 9), the less I have to say about it. Still, it's fun to write on semi-related topics. And I really do think the sing-along production would be a hoot.