Arts & Leisure

Gem’s flamboyant “Dreamcoat”

“JOSEPH and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove (OMP photos).

By Thom deMartino/Orange County Tribune

A funny thing happened on the way to the Pharaoh…

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s neon-hued musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” comes to flamboyant life in this newest offering from Garden Grove’s award-winning Gem Theater. The Narrator (Brittany Gerardi) and her “Narratorettes” (Hannah Clair and Giovanna Martinez) introduce this musical tale of young Joseph (Hayden Mangum), one of the 12 sons of the biblical patriarch Jacob (Randy Calcetas): so beloved as the favorite son, that his father gifts him a gorgeous, radiantly colorful coat.

His numerous jealous brothers, however, already seethe at their father’s unparalleled affection for Joseph … but the final straw to break the proverbial camel’s back comes when the humble young man’s prophetic dreams of his siblings bowing before him in submission is more than they can stand. Initially planning to do away with the lad, they instead choose to sell him into slavery, covering their misdeed by shredding Joseph’s treasured coat and telling their father his adored son was slain by beasts.

Meanwhile, Joseph has been brought to Egypt and sold to the wealthy Potiphar (director and OMP co-founder Damian Lorton, in a rare but hysterically colorful Gem stage cameo.) Rather than curse his misfortune, the plucky Joseph remains upbeat, making the most of his circumstances – so impressing his keeper that he is eventually promoted to run the master’s household.

Unfortunately for Joseph, Potiphar isn’t the only one impressed with him: the striking young man has also caught the eye of Potiphar’s alluring and lusty wife (Lexi Cross)… and one doesn’t need prophetic dreams to predict the dire results.

Despite obstacle after obstacle, Jacob’s precious lost son remains optimistic — but how long can Joseph’s gentle heart sustain, through these seemingly endless trials?

While Gem Theater has been recognized numerous times for the quality of their productions, and the acting and singing talents of their performers, the recent addition of their new state-of-the-art lighting system has augmented the lighting design of their shows to an incredible degree, enhancing the already jaw-dropping choreography in this show.

The dance numbers performed by the players are hypnotic, frenetic and quite distinct in their styles, whether the western-style hoedown helmed by the exuberant Peter Crisafulli for “One More Angel In Heaven,” the island-style melody of the “Benjamin Calypso” (the unlucky sibling played by the animated and affable Matthew Rangel) or the distinctive and strangely familiar over-the-top style of the Pharaoh (a mesmerizing, magnetic and hysterically scene-stealing James Scognamillo.)

UNIQUE DANCES highlight “Dreamcoat.”

But while the main players are without question the heart of the show (particularly the dazzling, moving performances by Mangum as Joseph), the backbone is certainly the choreography and the incredible dancing and singing talents of the myriad brothers, their wives, and the ensemble as a whole: pieces such as “Go Go Joseph” and the ending “Mega Mix” are absolutely breathtaking.

Offering stunning musical and dance numbers, vibrant costumes, top-tier performances and an extravagant staging unlike any other, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at the Gem Theater is a brilliantly unconventional take on the beloved Weber musical… just remember – don’t mess with the Pharaoh when he’s takin’ care of business (a-huh huh.)

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, Hayden Mangum, Randy Calcetas and James Scognamillo star in this unconventional and uplifting interpretation of the classic Andrew Lloyd Weber musical. Playing through May 15 at The Gem Theater, 12852 Main Street, Garden Grove, CA, 92840. Call (714) 741-9550 x221 or e-mail for ticketing information.


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