The White Theatre Presents a Joyful, Straightforward “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

A dance number from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Matthew Briggs and the cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Ryan Bruce)

Right up front, I have to make an admission: Somehow, despite spending my entire life in the theatre, I had never seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat until this past weekend. How this key gap in my theatre history remained intact for this long is both perplexing and immaterial—I was happy to finally see it filled and the White Theatre at the J’s production, directed by Dustin Pence with musical direction by Brant Challacombe, felt like a perfect introduction to the classic.

Most audiences likely already know the story, either from past viewings of the musical or from the biblical tale it’s based on. Among his many brothers, Joseph (Matthew Briggs) is his father’s favorite son, and for that, he is gifted a gorgeous, colorful coat. This gift and the preferential love it represents is not bestowed because of anything Joseph has done or the kind of man he is, but is seemingly based solely on his father’s love for Joseph’s mother over the other women he’s had children with. So some jealousy on the part of his siblings might be understandable—until, that is, they take things to a dire extreme and sell Joseph into slavery, telling their father he died.

The show tells Joseph’s story via a grab-bag of musical styles, from Calypso to country to an Elvis-impersonating Pharaoh. Between the big numbers, the sung-through story is guided by a Narrator, played here by Kelly Edgar. Edgar breaks the fourth wall to speak (rather, sing) to both us the audience, and to a chorus of children, the skirts of their school uniforms made up of technicolor stripes to match the eponymous coat—just one of Patricia Berning’s charming costumes. Edgar’s gently commanding presence and powerful voice, along with Alex Gumminger’s choreography and some impressive dancing and acrobatics, keep the show driving forward with energetic force.

Joseph was the first collaboration between Webber and Rice to be performed publicly and has been produced by an estimated 60,000 schools and community and regional theaters in the decades since. The musical has an excessively 1970s feel to it—the kind of play that will be a classic to some and feel dated to others. By leaning into the show’s inherent camp, the White Theatre’s production avoids that dated feeling and simply exudes joy.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoatruns at The White Theatre at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (5801 W 115 Street, Overland Park, KS) through July 23. For more information, visit thewhitetheatre.org.

Vivian Kane

Vivian Kane is a writer living in Kansas City. She covers pop culture and politics for a national audience at The Mary Sue and theatre and film locally, with bylines in The Pitch. She has an MFA in Theatre from CalArts.

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