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|Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice
A Reality Check|
Tuesday, May 18, 2004 ||
My daughter showed this site to me a few weeks ago so I wanted to see what some of the shows we'd seen lately we're getting appraised as. Wow, to my surprise seeing what's on this show's page! I have to speak up to give the Siskel counter to all the Eberts here it seems.|
I'm want to try to be constructive because there was some good to it, but there was a lot more bad I'm sorry to say. I was rather worked up afterwards. Mostly about the money we spent, thank goodness for friends to share laughs about it afterwards with. Yet Iíve still find myself thinking about it, and not in positive ways, which I wish wasn't so. I really do. I'm not sure why the other reviewers had such high praise. Unless something really drastic happened between the shows they saw and the one we saw. I just donít think it could have been possible that we saw the same show based on most of their comments. I don't know if they were possibly having an off night but there was several things going wrong it seemed. One point I agree with on the other reviewers is that yes, it would be nice to know which of the double-casting roles were being played by whom?
I was glad to see a childrens chorus, but the poor kids, having to only sit there through this whole experience that many times. I do at least commend them for sitting so still the whole time we watched. All were very attentive the entire time, and even though some weren't singing the correct words, all were putting their hearts in it. I only wish they would have been allowed to interact more with the other characters. Bring them into a simple dance number or a scene at some point so there would be more than just marching them in; sitting them down; then marching them off at the end of the act/show. A really huge opportunity missed there! Maybe some of them could have been the other missing five brothers? And for those wondering, I have no children in this show, so I'm not trying to play favorites, just an idea that would have certainly improved it.
As for the band, this was another point the other reviewers were correct. They were definitely an added bonus. My only problem with them was they were way, way too loud in that space, the volume on their speakers/instruments needed to be half of what it was. That would have balanced better to the singers/chorus.
The microphone equipment should have been dropped entirely and force the actors sing on their own. Either everyone should have access to the equipment or nobody should be using it. It was too bad we just couldn't make out what they were actually singing half the time. For those not familiar with the show it was a horrible experience for them. The microphone in front of the Narratorís face was bigger than her head! It made the actors too dependent on the equipment and when it started having problems, you could see look of confustion/frustration in their eyes, although I that would probably happen to anybody if their equipment stopped working. There was a point during the latter half of the show where the Narrator's mike went down, so she started singing louder to compensate and I actually thought, this is a bit better, I could start to hear her, then the mike came back on and she was Really loud and clear! Perfect! She had volume enough to compete with the band. However, she quickly realized she was 'live' again and dropped her volume down expecting the microphone to do the work for her. So she was back at a mumbling level. Not good at all. Joseph encountered the same problems on occassion. All of the cast, especially any character that touched a microphone, needed to enunciate considerably better than they were. It sounded so sloppy at times.
Costumes were good, someone did a worthy job there. The only other costumes that seemed to have problems were the twin-like dancer girls. One seemed to wear her version of outfits as short as was barely legal (no pun there) and the other would have hers as a more modest mid-length style, they really should have been more alike. A meeting in the middle would have been nice at least.
Lighting was extremely poor overall. While I did enjoy the inventiveness of the disco ball and computerized/spinning lights; the normal lights hardly lit any of the actors at all! They were always in such dark zones! The only real purpose that the lights seemed to serve was to light empty spots on the floor and back wall where none of the actors ever stood. There was even a yellow light that lit the top left corner of the main entrance doorway. Why? Nobody ever stood in that spot and even those that came near were a foot shorter than the spot that light created, it was distracting.
Only when all lights were up and running on big chorus numbers was it more bearable. The glow in the dark paint and lights did add a fun atmosphere but so many scenes were often mis-lit. For instance, there was a scene where the Narrator came in and moved about the stage; there were focused spinning disco lights on the doorway she came in. With the exception of when she came in, she wasn't standing anywhere near it that doorway again. Those spinning lights completely distracted and pulled focus from her constantly throughout the number. And there were many, many times when people were in complete darkness during scenes speaking to each other and the audience. Was the lighting operator just not paying attention? Or was he honestly directed to do that?
I just don't believe how it possibly can be perceived as over-directed, it seemed to me more like a lack of direction. Perhaps it's due to the how the director wanted to please himself more than the audience? He seemed to want to make all his details happen in large quantities that there was often no clear focus of where to watch. I nearly had to laugh because I thought it was sort of like putting kids in front of a loud, noisy, children's television show to keep them pacified for a few minutes while you finish up a couple other chores around the house. And we, the audience, were the kids they were attempting to pacify. Iím not saying the energy needed to drop at all, it just needed to be focused better than it was.
As for the actors themselves, the Narrator, despite most obstacles, was nice, she had a geniune happy glow and looked really good with the kids and audience interaction. And, from what we could make out, had a promisingly nice voice. At times her roaming about the stage had no direction to it. Shouldnít every movement have a reason?
I donít even want to get started on the ridiculous Ďintermissioní pre-show food throwing/offering and rock/paper/scissors game that went on for 15 minutes?! Iím not exaggerating on the length of time either. What purpose did that serve AT ALL? Cut it. Have the band start a song or have a doorbell chime call people in. That pre-show idea wasnít working and most audience people, including myself, were confused by its purpose.
As for Joseph, his voice sounded good from what we could tell, but he seemed a little lost on the stage at times too as to where to move to or having to deal with his microphone on his ever changing outfits. Or on the flip side, his focus would be so completely enthralled with moving to a specific spot on stage that he would fall out of character during those little moments trying to get there. But he did have the nice guy Joseph look so Iím forgiving there.
Commendably, the rest of the cast honestly looked like they were having a good time, except a few hairy dance moments which they still survived! So the big dance numbers were done very well for the most part. The only real critical moments seemed to be the two-dancer girls getting on the side stage with the band that move just seemed out of place. And, because Iím a Monster Elvis fanatic, I have to tell the Elvis that night (which we found out later was the director, oops.), to go home and study some Elvis tapes, with the exception of the crooked smile, all other movements you made were far more Austin Powers and far less Elvis. Elvis is no doubt rolling in his grave right now, and that's several fan's opinions there.
Wow, looking back I wrote quite a bit, thanks for those who stayed with me. I guess to sum up, overall it just looked like it needed more prep-time to me, maybe another couple weeks rehearsal would have given it a good sharp edge. Right now it was more like a wooden spoon what we saw. But I want to commend them all for the effort, because without trying, how can we learn to improve ourselves. I wish this site offered half marks so I could at least acknowledge kudos to children, and actors dancing and smiling despite the obstacles of technology and direction.