REVIEWS: DTC’s “Joseph,” T3′s “Ave. Q”

Sydney James Harcourt as a buff Joseph. (Photo courtesy Karen Almond)

The problem with the Webber and Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has always been its roots as a kids’ Sunday school pageant. It was written to be 20 minutes of Bible education set to music; when they decided to expand it, you could tell where they were padding. The result is tuneful, light enjoyment — 70 minutes of anachronistic songs about the Old Testament. But there’s never been a lot of meat to it; it’s a sing-along show with a Broadway attitude.

Or at least it used to be. Joel Ferrell, who directs and choreographs the version now playing at the Dallas Theater Center, has found a way around Joseph‘s weaknesses. First, the DTC has licensed the extended score, including a mega-mix curtain call medley that reiterates the entire score in digest form.

Second, he’s given a shape to the story it has always been in desperate need of: Instead of the show just being what it is, we now have a reason for it. A group of school kids trudge through a museum with a stern security guard (Liz Mikel). One of the children is fascinated by a copy of the Torah, and the guard takes note. She tell him the story of Joseph and his 11 brothers, and as she does, the stage opens into a Pee-Wee’s playhouse of colorful stagecraft; the kid even imagines himself as the baby brother in the tribe. This conceit does more than bookend the play: It explains to hip weirdness the show has always wrestled with, specifically, songs (and some characters) that seem unexpectedly modern. Why is Pharaoh be portrayed as Elvis? It makes sense if a 21st century child projects his ideas onto a story. And it gives Ferrell the chance to ratchet up the disconnects. The brothers now are skateboarding iPod junkies in baggy shorts and ball caps.

The change does two important things: It raises the energy level of the show, and it allows Ferrell to mount one of the gayest family musicals you’ll ever seen. (Maybe those are the same thing.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC screens “Joseph” sing-along Tuesday

The Dallas Theater Center’s summer musical is, as usual, a family friendly show, and this time, it’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It doesn’t open until June 22, but you can get a preview of DTC’s version, followed by a screening, tomorrow evening. For the second year, DTC has paired up with Studio Movie Grill on 75 and Royal for a meet-and-greet Q&A session, where you can visit with the cast of DTC’s production (including recent B’way veteran Liz Mikel, pictured) and then watch the filmed version of the show, starring Donny Osmond, in a sing-along. And all of it is free. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. on June 5 to meet the players, with seating at 7:10, Q&A at 7:30 and the movie at 7:45.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Drawing Dallas • 01.13.12

With a unique history and varied interests, life for Moses Herrera is an adventure

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

MosesFNL_3Name and age: Moses Herrera, 27

Occupation: Hotel industry strategy and revenue management/talent scout for an entertainment company

Spotted at: Hunky’s on the Strip
This handsome, outgoing New Orleans native is the eldest of four brothers, the offspring of an Italian mother and a Spanish father. A charismatic Libra, Moses spent 10 years living in Prague with his family, an experience that opened his eyes to other cultures and set the stage for his future travels.

Decadent past: He attended college at Johnson and Wells in Denver, majoring in marketing with a minor in leadership. His career brought him to NOLA when he attended Southern Decadence, which changed his life. Moses grew to love the circuit and was an active participant for many years. These days his work requires him to travel, he’s been to every state in the union, except Alaska. He also donates his time to fundraising for the youth program of the Montrose Counseling Center, and for 11 years has served on the board of the National Restaurant and Hotel Lodging Association’s Prostart Program, which teaches high school students about the hospitality industry.

Staying healthy: Moses enjoys working out, yoga, cycling, kayaking … and cooking. He has an affinity for Italian and Spanish dishes, which he loves to prepare for his friends. An avid thespian, he appeared in numerous musicals, including Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Lion King. He shares his life with Coco, an American cocker spaniel.

Favorite quote: “Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is best.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas