Audiences are Raving about Barter's 'Joseph'
Musical by Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber 'Faithful to Biblical'
By ROBERT MCKINNEY | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER | February 15, 2009*** This story was published Feb. 12, 2009, in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
Anybody expecting a quiet opening of Barter Theatre's 76th season ? with the economy being what it is and all ? doesn't know Richard Rose, Barter's hard-driving top banana, aka producing artistic director, and his jumping bunch of equally ebullient actors, technicians and just plain folks who make Barter the miracle that it is.
And what better way to ring in what appears to be another fine season than with a tried, true and much-loved Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"?After all, with the media's incessant drone of doom and gloom, who couldn't use a good laugh right now? Throw in plenty of fine music, handsome and beautiful actors, and an economical, but very attractive set, and, oh, yes, how about some talented and cute kids just to sweeten the deal.
The story, of course, is a fairly faithful retelling of the Biblical yarn of Joseph whose father gives him a coat of many colors, thus arousing the ire of Joseph's Carhart-clad brothers who then collude to turn Joseph into a spot of ready cash by selling him to some traveling Egyptian slave buyers.
Joseph, whose goose for awhile looks cooked, but who has a knack for interpreting dreams, gives the Pharaoh of Egypt a long-range weather forecast that ends up keeping pyramid-land in the black, thus saving the Egyptians from their own financial crisis and famine.
This makes Joseph into "Da Man" with Pharaoh who appoints our boy to be his main dude with all the wealth and perks, including his own executive chariot. Meanwhile, back home, the famine rages, and Joseph's dad and brothers are so hungry and down on their luck that they decide to hoof it to Egypt with hopes of scoring some handouts.
After having a bit of fun out of his destitute family that doesn't recognize him, Joseph reveals himself, forgives all and the party gets underway. Never mind that a few hundred years later, a pharaoh arises who "knew not Joseph" and makes slaves of the whole bunch.
Ben Mackel has the title role, and what a singing voice he has. Hannah Ingram, who also has world-class pipes, plays the narrator angel. Eugene Wolf is Jacob, and Mike Ostroski stops the show as one hunka-hunka burning love Pharaoh. Other Barter favorites play a variety of roles.
The real stars of this show, though, are members of the East Tennessee Children's Choir, the truly marvelous life work of Beth McCoy, directed by Jane Deloach Morison. These young songsters sound so good and make it look oh-so-easy.
Live music is by Tim Robertson, Steve Sensenig and Eric Quesenberry. Rose directs, and the usual cast of collaborators and actors bring it all together.
For dates, times and reservations, call (276) 628-3991 or visit http://www.bartertheatre.com.