If the Liberty Center’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” fell short of amazing on Sunday, it was at least pretty darn good. The musical, which continues with four more stagings Thursday through Sunday, drew a lot of needed energy from its young cast.
Even though a lot of the cast presumably has theater commitments at their high school, they came out in such droves for “Joseph” that I felt like I was watching the best show Smith-Cotton High School had ever put on. Make no mistake, there was a professional flair to the proceedings, with Britt Faaborg’s crisp orchestra, Mona Allen’s gorgeously painted set and Wanda Rasa’s vibrant costumes.
But the singers/
dancers were mostly high school students or younger. Tristin Baro was confident and beaming in the title role as he belted out Tim Rice-penned classics like “Joseph’s Coat” (the one I’ve had stuck in my head all week) and “Any Dream Will Do.” Actors who have taken center stage at Smith-Cotton beefed up the supporting cast, including the always-entertaining Marco Infante as eldest brother Reuben, who fronts “Those Canaan Days.” To give an idea of the cast’s depth: Madison Beard, a fellow senior along with Baro and Infante, had stolen the show with her amazing vocals in the S-C musical “Aida” a couple years ago, and she is merely a chorus member in “Joseph.”
The chorus is important, of course. Although I sometimes wished they had been miked along with the leads, they added a ton of color and energy with modern dance moves choreographed by Megan Drianis, who is part of the chorus herself.
I don’t want to sell the adult actors short, though. Marc Hibbard, who has such a uniquely shaped face that I think he could get cast in certain Hollywood roles, is a perfect Jacob. And Anthony Beard, in his first theatrical role, makes a fine Elvis-style Pharoah. Although both of their vocals could’ve been punched up a notch on Sunday, there’s no arguing with their look, as enhanced by Rasa.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s yarn — about a boy who is favored by his father and resented by his brothers — is broad and sometimes silly, but that takes a back burner to the songs, of which there are 24 crammed into a brisk 85-minute show (including intermission) that’s refreshingly free of spoken dialogue. Aside from a slight downturn in energy toward the end of the first act (corresponding with the darker turn in the plot, as Joseph is banished by his bros and imprisoned in Egypt), the variety and catchiness of the tunes held my attention.
Paging through the program, it seems that a lot of the cast and crew — along with director Ashley Cook — count “Joseph” as one of their favorite musicals. Last Sunday, they demonstrated their fandom with a worthy production, and they’ll no doubt keep that passion going through this weekend.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Liberty Center, 111 W. Fifth St., Sedalia