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Monday, February 19, 2018

American Idol alumni star in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Joseph musical at ASU Gammage in Tempe, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Ace Young as Joseph and Diana DeGarmo as The Narrator in the family-friendly musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Photos by Daniel A. Swalec.

Families who have followed the televised singing competition “American Idol” for many seasons may remember Diana DeGarmo. She took second place behind Fantasia Barrino during the third season and Ace Young in the fifth.

DeGarmo and Young, who met while performing in the musical “Hair” on Broadway, wed in 2013. Now they are starring in a family-friendly musical appearing through Sunday, January 17 at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, ASU Gammage

Ryan Williams as Pharaoh and Ace Young as Joseph in “Stone the Crows.”

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is one of many musicals, including “Evita” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” that feature music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It began in London several decades ago as a 15-minute choral performance. Several productions have been performed on Broadway since then. The latest stars Young as Joseph, one of 12 sons of Jacob in the Old Testament tale of sibling rivalry, and Diana as The Narrator, whose songs help to explain and move the plot forward.

“Joseph” features a variety of musical styles—from country western to calypso—and this new production has a range of contemporary dance styles including jazz, tap and hip hop. It’s directed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who earned a Tony Award for his work on the musical “In the Heights,” which also attracted family audiences during its tour stop at ASU Gammage.

A new take on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

This production has been updated for contemporary audiences. Although the musical is set in and around Egypt, it opens with the cast dressed in contemporary garb, including tennis shoes and hooded sweatshirts. Minimalist set pieces include large blocks rearranged to form different elements. Elaborate set pieces from prior productions have been replaced by complicated choreography that infuses the stage with energy.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, ASU Gammage, Tempe

Paul Castree as Simeon and the Company in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Costumes and lighting conjure more of a Las Vegas vibe than previous iterations of the show. Visual elements, including the multicolored coat that makes Joseph’s brothers jealous enough to sell him into slavery, are inspired by stained-glass works created for a building in Jerusalem by famed artist Marc Chagall. At times, projections seen on set elements framing the stage resemble graffiti, reinforcing the production’s modern, urban feel.

Ensemble vocals are exceptional, even as DeGarmo’s mostly clear, compelling voice sometimes wavers and Young’s vocals demonstrate a consistent nasal quality. Paul Castree, who performs the role of Joseph’s brother Simeon, steals the show with winsome vocals and comedic talent.

This is a must-see production, especially for youth and families who love musical theater or contemporary dance.

What you need to know

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
7:30pm Tues-Fri, 2 & 7:30pm Sat, 1 & 6:30pm Sun through Jan 17
Tickets: $20 to $125
ASU Gammage, 1200 S Forest Ave, Tempe
800-982-ARTS (2787) •

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Lynn Trimble

Lynn Trimble of Scottsdale is an award-winning arts writer and mother of three grown children whose work has appeared in Raising Arizona Kids and Phoenix New Times.

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