"JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT," through July 30, Valentine Theater, 839 N. 900 East, American Fork (801-404-0736 or alpinecommunitytheater.org); running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (one intermission)
AMERICAN FORK — Alpine Community Theater lives up to its name with the production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which was truly a community affair, from the cast of over 100 people to the audience members, many of whom were family and friends of the performers.
Of course, the bulk of that cast doesn't play the title roles (although with 11 brothers, this musical already has a large cast). Rather, it's made up of young children who serve as the chorus and occasionally backdrops to the onstage action.
According to house manager Jeff Snyder, husband of Director Laura Snyder, they typically try to cast 150-250 children. Decked out in tie-dye shirts, these cute kids managed to not only sound angelic and sweet, they didn't distract from the main story or characters, even when they were dancing in the aisles.
Alpine Community Theater's goal, it seems, is to give everyone a chance to shine, which is why it made another unique choice: splitting the role of the narrator into three.
That's right, three. Three women — Courtney Byrom, Sarah Ogden and Aimee Ritchie — split the role between them, at times singing parts alone and together. The company created harmonies for the three women, reminiscent of old-timey girl groups like the Andrews Sisters. Later on, I realized it also reminded me of the muses from “Hercules.”
Although it was startling at first, the overall effect ended up quite pleasing, especially because the three women all had different voice styles better suited to certain parts of songs. Besides the role of Joseph, the narrators are the only double-cast characters.
Brenton Ferrell played Joseph on Thursday night as part of the "blue cast." Although his voice isn't quite the powerful belt theatergoers might be accustomed to, and his acting is only passable, he nailed every note and was nothing if not sincere.
Famous numbers like "Those Canaan Days" and "Benjamin Calypso" were wonderful in terms of humor, emphasized by costume and choreography. Brett Lyman and Tanner Perkins, playing Simeon and Judah, respectively, did a great job with their silly affected accents. With his inflection, Perkins reminded me of the murderous chef from “The Little Mermaid.”
Paul Miller did a great Elvis impersonation as the Pharoah, but it was maybe a little too good — his words were rendered mostly unintelligible. And Potiphar's wife wasn't portrayed as sex-crazed. Rather, just crazed — and a little screechy. But she had to be screechy — she either wasn't mic'd or her mic wasn't working, because anything she sung or said was inaudible.
There were a few mic problems scattered throughout, but the cast plowed on like professionals. In another unfortunate opening night mishap, the skirt of one young dancer coming undone. She bravely continued to dance while trying to also keep her skirt from entirely falling to the floor, and frankly did a great job.
The sets were sometimes the scene-stealers. The second act featured a white staircase that at times became technicolored, lights flashing in time with the music. There was also a clever and aesthetically pleasing use of props — handheld sheaves of corn and stars twirling about, and my personal favorite, rainbow umbrellas that appeared when the cast sang about the colors of Joseph's coat.
The best set piece was probably the disco ball that came down during the last part of the show, covering the audience in reflected light.
The costumes ranged from simple to complex but they all did well to bluntly portray each character's role — when Pharoah makes Joseph his second in command, Joseph's new cape is emblazoned with the number 2. Costumes were colorful and added to, rather than distracted from, numbers like "Benjamin Calypso."
Even though this production didn't have all the strongest singers, many things made this a quality production. Ultimately, theatergoers will walk away with a sense of community, created by the enormous children's chorus and emphasized by a conga line that invited audience members to join. (Ferrell's actual dad even played his onstage dad.)
If you want to expose your kids to theater without them getting bored or squirming around, take them to see this show. Just be sure to get an aisle seat, in case they want to conga.