Theater is very different from film. The actors seem more real. The motions jump out and grab hold of the audience. There is a greater feeling of empathy for the characters as they live their stories right in front of the viewers. Mistakes are more likely and more accepted. In many ways theater is more real than the movies.
The Fort Wayne Civic Theater is currently bringing the story of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to life for its final weekend. The play is the biblical story of Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, who has dreams that come true. Joseph is Jacob's favorite son, so Jacob buys him an amazing technicolor coat. This makes Joseph's brothers jealous. When Joseph has dreams that he rises above his brothers to a position of power, it is the final straw and they sell him into Egyptian slavery. After an unfortunate run-in with his master's wife, Joseph lands himself in jail. The Pharaoh, however, is having nightmares and the word gets out that Joseph may be able to tell him what they mean. After a correct interpretation, Joseph's dream comes true as he rises to the top as Pharaoh's right hand man.
While this production of "Joseph" is not my favorite of those I've seen, it was pretty good. Kontrell Tyler and Lisa D. McDavid played the lead roles of Joseph and the Narrator. Tyler is very good. His voice is both smooth and clear and he portrays Joseph with the naiveté that makes the character likable. McDavid played the Narrator the last time this show was at the Civic. She never fails to blow me away. Tony Didier, who played Joseph the last time around, played the Pharoah. Didier was good as the Elvis-esqe king of Egypt. His comedic performance, however, was slightly tarnished by unnecessary gimmicks that took away from the flow of the show. Usually, my favorite part of this show is the men's ensemble that makes up Joseph's eleven brothers. The brothers this year included Tim Wheeler, Kerry E. Yingling, and Nathan Smith. The brothers started off a little lack-luster, but quickly picked up the pace and added a fun dynamic to the story. Since the play is set up as a story being told to a group of school children, three local children's choirs from Canterbury Middle School, Holy Cross Lutheran School, and the Fort Wayne's Children's Choir, got to take part in the production. The children were more involved in the show than in previous productions. I enjoyed this aspect. I think it added to the tall tale persona of the plot. I, however, do wish that the kids had been given more direction as to not playing with their hair or clothing on stage.
While the acting was good, the choreography was better. This show had more complex dance scenes than I have seen before and the dancers and ensemble pulled it off really well. I was impressed.
The scenery also impressed me. It added to the technicolor, over-the-top feel of the show. It was also functional and worked well with the transitions between numbers.
The one major drawback to this production was that it was done extremely well by the Civic not too long ago. I feel that because of this the Civic tried to top itself. A lot of unnecessary jokes were added in during transitions or in the middle of songs. I feel that in a futile effort to be funnier than before, these jokes actually detracted from the experience and interrupted a show that is very fast paced and should have a very smooth flow from scene to scene.
Overall, I really liked this production. It was well acted and the singing, especially by Tyler and McDavid, is amazing. I think that it is a great show for parents to take their kids to see and would be a great introduction to the theater experience. The bright colors, comedy, and fast paced music will keep children and adults readily entertained.
WAYNEDALE AREA CAST AND PRODUCTION MEMBERS
Kontrell Tyler, is playing the lead as "Joseph." Kontrell began doing shows at the Civic Theatre when he was 13 years old. He is a graduate of Wayne High School 2002, and is 20 years old. While at Wayne he was in Music Man, Grease, Fame, and Secret Garden just to name a few.
Kerry Yingling's supporting role character is "Levi." Kerry lives on Indiana Avenue near the Old Mill Road area. He is a graduate of Garrett High School and a Purdue Agriculture and Bio Engineer.
Tim Wheeler plays "Reuben". Tim teaches at Huntington College and is a pastor in Aboite. This is his debut in the Civic productions.
Nathan Smith plays "Asher." Nathan is employed with Aesthetic Plants here on the southwest side of Fort Wayne, utilizing his degree in marketing from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Schellie Englehart is the Costume Designer/Assistant Costumer. Schellie graduated from Wayne High School in 1975 and has been with the Civic Theatre for 15 years.
The entire cast deserves kudos. Doug King, Guest Director / Choreographer, played the lead role of Joseph on Broadway in 1980. He toured with Donny Osmond in 1994 doing the original Joseph.
He has also directed and choreographed at Beef & Boards Dinner Theater in Indy and the Indianapolis Civic Theatre.
Due to sold out performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat, the Fort Wayne Civic Theater has added extra performance dates.