PALM CANYON THEATRE PRESENTS A MUSICAL COMEDY THAT DELIGHTS

Special to the Desert Star: Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

Considering the mood that half of the country is in right now, a respite from the political machinations is definitely in order. It’s time for an evening of fun-filled entertainment that is sure to please anyone with a sense of humor and an appreciation for comedy along with silly and spectacular musical numbers, all executed with energy, style, and creativity.

The Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT) of Palm Springs has been ‘knocking ‘em dead’ with their showmanship and quality productions for years. The Layne Family producers are now presenting the crowd-pleasing musical “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”; one of their splashiest and fabulously costumed musical productions in several seasons. The production mounted on the recently expanded stage boasts a cast of 32 singers, actors, and dancers.

Photo credits Paul Hayashi

No one writes huge, successful, award-winning musical productions like Andrew Lloyd Weber, and his lyricist partner Tim Rice. Both men are multiple Tony and Academy Award winners and PCT has performed most of their musical theatre canon over the years.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, now on stage at PCT, is creatively directed, by veteran actor/director Charles Harvey, who brings a wealth of experience that cleverly breathes life into those fifty cast members, including a nine person on-stage “kid’s choir” (perhaps ages six to ten?). With that many people on the Palm Canyon stage, director Harvey must feel what it’s like to direct a herd of cats. Instead, of stage mayhem, the audience is treated to an entertaining ensemble experience where everybody knows exactly what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. It’s a visual feast for the eyes and ears.

This “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” musical is based on Biblical source material that tells the story of Joseph and his eleven, not-so-nice, brothers who sell him into a life of slavery and bondage for money. The libretto takes a lot of liberties with the original, in that it employs the addition of anachronisms like the Egyptians using telephones, I-Phones, wearing gym shoes, using modern day expressions and Western Cowboy attire for certain scenes and such. It’s a bit of a biblical ‘hoot’ in its execution which usually appeals to younger people.

Photo credits Paul Hayashi

Think back to productions such as “The Rocky Horror Show” and “Young Frankenstein”, both seen at PCT not that long ago, and if memory serves, I believe I remember seeing “Joseph’s current director Harvey and his wife Kathy seated in the audience yelling dialogue lines to the actors on stage and throwing popcorn and assorted items, as is the traditional custom when attending a performance of the play. Yes, director Harvey is just the man to pull off all the silliness and fun inherent in this show. There may be, however, just a few people expecting to see a traditional rendition of the bible story. If that’s the case, I’m afraid they’re not going to find that story on the PCT stage.

What audiences who do attend will definitely find, is a thoroughly entertaining musical and a fun show; performed by a cast too large (52) to mention here in print. However, there are always stand-outs and this show is no exception. The two stars of the production are Julie Rosser Balbini who performs and sings as The Narrator in her lovely soprano, and Scott Clinkscales who winningly sings and acts the title character of Joseph. Solid support comes from Shafik Wahhab as Pharoah, who plays and sings him as Elvis Presley complete with a “thank you, thank you very much” at the end of each chorus. It’s a spot-on hilarious performance.

The technical department led by director Harvey includes Scenic and Lighting designs by PCT resident wizard J.W. Layne, who makes the normal stage space seem larger in order to accommodate its 52 performers. One can only speculate about the mayhem and chaos that is taking place backstage, while we see or hear none of it. Well Done, backstage crew!

Photo credits Paul Hayashi

The gorgeous costumes are products of the creative energy and talent of resident Costume Designer Derik Shopinski, and his associate Kathryn Ferguson. Costume assists come from Virginia Sulick, Char Childs, Lisa Goldberg, and Oksana Judy.

Choreographer Jacqueline Le Blanc creates sharp, snazzy, and exciting dance routines for everyone, but really shines in the athletic and sensuous Pas de Deux number danced by Kate Antonov and German Pavan. Jeff Jones is the sound designer and Steven Smith is the Musical Director.

The Palm Canyon Theatre is presenting a dazzlingly fun and entertaining show that runs through February 5, 2017. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at 760-323-5123. Don’t Miss It!

Photo credits Paul Hayashi

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