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Direction, rock concert setting unravel ‘Dreamcoat’

During much of Super Summer Theatre/Stage Door Productions’ "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," I had to resist the urge, despite the excellent cast, to stand up and yell to the skies, "Just what do you people think you’re doing?"

First nightmare: As the show started, I watched ushers removing their vests and sitting down to enjoy themselves as they ignored the sea of flash photography and cellphone usage. Super Summer Theatre still doesn’t understand that an usher’s job does not end when the production begins.

Then came the musical itself. It’s an early Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice, lighthearted look at the biblical story of Joseph and how he survives slavery and 12 jealous brothers. The songs are bouncy, but after a couple of ditties, the head starts to bang.

Director Terrence Williams has told the press that the score has "the potential to feel a little dated at times." That should have been his first clue to back off. Instead, he has chosen to turn this modest tale into a mammoth rock concert. A five-piece band, bathed in harsh, red light, towers over a raked stage drowned in a Rorschach inkblot. The costumes are leather and rough, and there’s lots of skin smothered in tattoos. The obvious question is, why?

It’s baffling when a biblical tale gives off such goth vibes. Satan seems to be hiding beneath the chords.

The numbing rock sound destroys one of the script’s assets: the assortment of musical styles.

Worse, Williams is so concept-crazy that he neglects the storyline.

Joseph’s devotion to God is exemplified when he spurns the advances of a beautiful woman because he doesn’t believe in "free love." Williams has actor Jonathan Tuala play the scene as if Joseph is a screaming homosexual. But if Joseph rejects a beautiful woman because he’s gay, does that make him virtuous or does it just make him gay?

The tragedy here is that Williams has a huge, first-rate cast eager and able to serve his vision. Undoubtedly, we’ll better appreciate their talents when nurtured by a director more interested in serving the material than being an auteur.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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