MTG’s sleepover extravaganza
It was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and...
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Directed by Kirsten Olson ’14
Performed by the MIT Musical Theater Guild
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice
La Sala de Puerto Rico, Student Center
February 2–4, 9–11, 2018
Human camels, cowboy hats, cheesy French accents, Elvis, fluffy pillows, spinning colors and whirling lights, and a familiar Bible bedtime story come together in MTG’s latest production: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The well-loved musical composed by well-loved Andrew Lloyd Webber takes a sleepy spin in MTG’s version, with PJs and blankets and bedtime stories aplenty. The audience was invited to watch from fluffy pillows on the floor as the stone-tablet-esque Bible story transformed before their eyes into a whirlwind of dreams and color and Candyland — complete with fake Western accents effusively waxing about “another angel in heaven”; a hairy-chested Pharaoh casually grooving as Elvis (Alejandro Vientós G); and milk and cookies — yes, milk and cookies, for YOU, the audience!
I especially appreciated Simeon’s (Edward Nguyen ’19) exquisite French inflection and his angsty efflux of Frenchy lyrics, as his brothers wallowed around drunk on juice boxes, moaning things like "beret" and other French-sounding exclamations. “Aww”-inducing was the trio of sister-narrators, who framed the story of Joseph with their bedtime frolicking: the patient oldest sister’s (Dheekshita Kumar ’20) sing-songing in a quite lovely voice to the restless youngest sister (Grace Kuffner ’20), and the “middlest sister” (Elisa Boles ’18) who at first will have nothing to do with her petulant younger sister’s antics, but later softens and joins the other two in indulging in Joseph’s story. Potiphar’s provocative partner, puckered up in feathered boa and poppin’ pink heels, dazzled the crowd (but not Joseph) with her feminine charms. The orchestra, which occasionally overwhelmed the singing voices with booming brass and string (not the orchestra’s fault — I blame poor wiring and micing), pampered the audience at intermission with a rendering of Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble, goat-style.
Lighting, done by Jakob Weisblat ’18 and Irena Martinez ’18, captured my attention throughout the show. When the voices were too muffled to hear, I instead focused on glamorous colors splattered around the stage: a golden glow framing Joseph and his Pharoah-endowed glory; a weeping blue bathing youngest brother Benjamin in a desolate aura as he wails upon his knees after being framed; bars of light cast upon Joseph in his cold prison cell, evoking a despair the ratchet “prison walls” lining the floor around him fails to create.
The production showed on Feb. 2–4, and will show again this weekend, Feb. 9–11 at 8 p.m., in La Sala de Puerto Rico in the Student Center. At only 1.5 hours, it’s a really short musical — take a brief escape from your impending semester workload into the absurdity of this historical tale blessed by the imagination of MIT’s MTG of many colors! “It was red and yellow and green and brown and scarlet and black and ochre and peach and ruby and olive and violet and fawn and lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve and cream and crimson and silver and rose and azure and lemon and russet and grey and purple and white and pink and orange and blue!”