Review: Beef & Boards' 'Joseph'

October 9, 2009
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Indy has had no shortage of productions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" over the past decade or so. But after an act of Beef & Boards' new production (on stage through Nov.22), I thought maybe I had passed my limit.

With a sizable cast crammed onto the small stage (it seemed as if the choreography had never met the set designer), the tongue-in-cheek Biblical tale played out fine musically, but never sparked.

A strong-voiced but bland narrator led us into a vision-less hodgepodge where visual jokes (yes, one of Jacob's wives is wearing a pizza on her head) thudded along with those already in the script. With not enough elbow room on stage most of the time, the brothers had little chance to pop as individuals. Rick Desloge's youthful underplaying of Joseph (until the over-the-top push at the end of his "Close Every Door" ballad) and some fun in-the-moment work from the underused John Vessels (as a brother and the butler) helped but wasn't enough to save the act.

But as Joseph himself learns, one shouldn't give up when all seems lost. One of the second act's big numbers belongs to the Pharaoh, who is usually played as a cartoon-like Elvis. Here, however, the inspired choice was made to rethink him in the James Brown mold. Fighting through the clutter, actor Sean Blake plays his big number for all its worth, helping push the entire production to a higher level.

If only the entire show had been rethought in the way that his part was, this could have been a "Joseph" fans' dream.

Your thoughts?

  • I saw the show this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it!
    It seems that you've seen the show too many times and have lost objectivity at this point. Yes, they have a small stage, but they make use of every inch and don't hold back with the performance.
    Yes, the Pharaoh is fantastic, and a fun twist on the show. Too many twists, though, would create a hodgepodge out of a terrific musical.
  • I also saw the show over the weekend and I have no idea what you are talking about. Like Julia above said, if you've seen the show too many times and you're sick of it maybe you shouldn't review it. Those actors work so hard to put on a show and I personally thought it was adorable and exciting! Not every show needs to be like Vegas. Why do you have to be so negative in your reviews? You really seem hellbent on personally attacking actors. Is there a reason for this? And bland Narrator???? HUH?? And I thought Joseph was wonderful as well. Perhaps you need a vacation. I do agree that the Pharaoh was fabulous.
    Everyone go see Joseph at Beef and Boards, you will NOT be disappointed!!
  • Nancy and Julia:
    I'm glad that you both enjoyed the production. And I tend to let comments from readers stand without further chiming in from me. However, I'm curious about Nancy's comment about my being "hellbent on personally attacking actors."
    In the review, I mentioned only three actors by name, all of them with positive comments. How is that personally attacking?
    As for your other note: Thank goodness every show isn't like Vegas. I'm not sure I could stand the feathers.
    • Lou-
      Thanks for writing back! Your opinion, my opinion, whatever. Doesn't matter. The show will go on and it will be very successful as it always is. I hear ticket sales have been amazing!!
      Have a blessed day!
      • So Much Done So Well
        I, like Lou, have seen more than my fair share of "Joesph" productions. In contrast to his uneven experience at the Pork 'n' Play, I LOVED it! It was localized and altered enough to keep me interested and I thought there were several standout performances in an overall high-caliber production.

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