Raleigh Little Theatre's recent revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, performed June 6-14 in RLT's Rose Garden Amphitheatre, was a high-octane production superlatively staged by RLT artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons and starring RLT resident diva Rose Martin as the Narrator. Had there been any rafters overhead, Martin would surely have rattled them with her ringing vocals.
This pioneering biblical rock opera, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics Tim Rice, debuted in the London's West End in 1972 and premiered on Broadway in New York City in 1982. Joseph was first performed on RLT's Cantey V. Sutton Main Stage in 1984. The 2003 production, performed outdoors under often uncooperative skies, was briskly staged by director Haskell Fitz-Simons and cleverly choreographed by assistant director and choreographer Freddie-Lee Heath.
Scenic designer Rick Young did a superb job of suggesting the musical's various locales in Canaan and Egypt; costume designer Vicki Olson created a gorgeous Dreamcoat and a striking array of period costumes; and musical director Julie Flinchum (keyboards), Sam Shaber (keyboards), Charles Newkirk (guitar), Chris Thompson (bass), Bill Hayes (drums), and Ryder Shelley (percussion) really kept the amphitheater rocking. Only sound designer Rick LaBach struggled during the show's June 14 performance, particularly when Pharaoh's mic went dead at key points.
Young Kyle Langworthy was utterly charming as Joseph, the egotistical and decidedly undiplomatic interpreter of dreams whose constant bragging really scorched the shorts of Reuben (the magnificent rocker Brent Wilson) and Joseph's other 10 brothers.
Mattney Beck was a scream as the Elvis Presley-like Pharaoh and as Potiphar, Joseph's first master. Heather Powell was the cat's meow as Potiphar's slutty wife, and Alan Seales and Tony Hefner provided comic relief as the Butler and Baker imprisoned with Joseph when Potiphar's wife falsely accused him of molesting her.
Bree Branker was amazingly supple as the Apache dancer in the smoky French cabaret version of "Those Canaan Days," and Tony Hefner provided a nifty lead vocal on the "Benjamin Calypso." They and the large but talented cast, snazzy staging, superior production values, and animated instrumental accompaniment helped Joseph triumph over the elements.