|The cast of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the|
Levoy Theatre (Millville, N.J.). The show closes Sunday, Nov. 18.
The production stars CJ Jarema as Joseph, Kaitlyn Cox as the Narrator.
Tyler Daddario and Katie Kiessling direct.
After the second Saturday performance of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Levoy Theatre, I was asked if the quality of production I had just seen was representative of the "dream" the Off Broad Street Players Theatre Company (OBSP) yearned for years ago. (I was a member of the OBSP and volunteer to revitalize the Levoy in the mid-to-late 2000s; they wanted to perform in a theater house of their own instead of local schools and churches).
YES. YES. YES. THIS IS THE DREAM! If you were part of those years, just take a deep breath and take a look around because its happening and it's incredible and we're here for it. It began to come true back when the Levoy opened in September 2012, but it seems the grandeur is being perfected with every season.
Katie Kiessling and Tyler Daddario, I'll call them the Kiessling-Daddario Team, direct an extravaganza. This young team of professionals have built one of the most colorful, energized, enjoyable experiences patrons of the Levoy could ask for. They've filled the stage with dreamers, young and old, dream-like sets and costumes, and dreamy-smooth voices in this fresh, new production of the early biblical Joseph, a dream-reader with a colorful coat, betrayed by his brothers into slavery, only to become a royal himself.
A delightful Children's Choir open the show as the marvelous Kaitlyn Cox begins to tell them the Genesis story of Joseph and his coat. Cox's ability as a singer and storyteller captivate the entire theater, inviting us into this cozy mosaic.
We're introduced to Joseph's brothers who each have such a distinct investment in their own narrative, blending with one another brilliantly. Phillip Blandino is first-rate and hilarious with the bright and fun Austin Satinsky in "Those Canaan Days" in the second act, supported by grand-sounding harmonies from chorus of brothers. The female ensemble of the brothers' wives are just as tremendous, especially in "Go, Go, Go Joseph," and well-throughout the second act.
Joseph's brothers betray him early on. He first serves the delights of Potiphar's Wife, played by Melissa Kiessling, who is sensational as the seductress (and did exquisite, smart work as this show's costume designer). Joseph is then tossed into prison by Potiphar, played excellently by Joshua Garrison. Next, he becomes a slave who interprets dreams, and eventually serves an Elvis-like Pharoah, played with a marvelous electric energy by Michael Muzzarelli.
Every corner of this production was polished thanks to great production management by Jason Smith, stage management by Domonic Barnes, wonderful sound design by Sean Pedrick, and, the excellent music direction by Shannon Sheridan (she also conducted the tremendous orchestra).
The great takeaway was the dedicated talent of an outstanding ensemble. From this ensemble, there were many break-out talents: Randy Bock and Corey Critelli as the Butler and Baker, respectively, were gleaming in the first act finale, as was Jake Ewan as Benjamin in the second act finale. Julie DiDomenico's dancing was dazzling in "Canaan Days." Also, the sterling Christopher Cline and radiant Lindsay Nakai are truly smart, scintillating dancers throughout this production.
But, the true break-out performance-of-the-year is undoubtedly CJ Jarema as the humble, warm Joseph. His ability to internalize such a kind, earnest heart, and convey it through his hypnotically smooth vocals and countenance, while also balancing a command of the narrative, is pure magic. In this groundbreaking performance, Jarema earns his star, and cements his legacy as one of South Jersey's finest actors.
The Kiessling-Daddario Team have painted a vibrant mosaic that entertains and keeps us smiling throughout, and, into the insane ending, which I won't ruin for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I hope becomes a new trademark of the Kiessling-Daddario magic. Daddario practically gave us a kaleidoscope of light and Kiessling brought many styles of prismatic dance to the Levoy, in their dual roles, respectively, as lighting designer and choreographer (apart from directing). We will see much more from them in the coming seasons, I am sure of it, bringing joy to our hearts, making dreams come true.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. LYRICS BY TIM RICE. MUSIC BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER. SET DESIGN BY MARY BONER AND TOM KIESSLING. HAIR AND MAKE-UP BY JOHN RATTACASA. COSTUME DESIGN BY MELISSA KIESSLING. SOUND DESIGN BY SEAN PEDRICK. CHILDREN'S CHOIR LEAD BY BRIANNA LUND. PROPERTIES BY GIANNA DOTTI. PUPPETS BY CARRIE ELLIS AND KRISTA SMITH. ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGEMENT BY CARRIE ELLIS AND MELISSA LAURENCIO. PRODUCTION MANAGED BY JASON SMITH. STAGE MANAGED BY DOMONIC BARNES. MUSIC DIRECTION BY SHANNON SHERIDAN. STARRING KAITLYN COX AND CJ JAREMA. ALSO STARRING MICHAEL MUZZARELLI, JOSHUA GARRISON, RANDY BOCK, COREY CRITELLI, MELISSA KIESSLING, GIAN VERDEROSE, JARED DESHIELDS, CHRISTOPHER CLINE, AUSTIN SATINSKY, LAUREN FAZENBAKER, PHILLIP BLANDINO, MATT LAYTON, AIME FERENZ, SHAINA EGAN, APRIL JOHNSON, ANDREW FRALINGER, EMILY LANCETTA, JOHN RATTACASA, JAKE EWAN, JAMIE WADDINGTON, MEGAN BURKE, LEANNE COX, NIAMH SMITH, SANDY LAYTON, KACIE BURNETT, KAYLA CLEARY, JACOB COX, JULIA DENNIS, NEFI EL, ALICIA ELLIS, ANDREA ELLIS, MARLEY GANT, OCTAVIUS JOHNSON, OLIVIA JOHNSON, JENAE LAWSON, MADISON MANNO, DOMINIC MELCHIORRE, RYAN POLLOCK, PHILLY SMITH, HAILEY SUTTON, PAIGE SUTTON, ELIJAH WATTS, AND DANCE CAPTAINS JULIE DIDOMENICO AND LINDSAY NAKAI. DIRECTED BY TYLER DADDARIO AND KATIE KIESSLING.