Fun For All
Thursday, September 2, 2004
Our society has little patience for a two-year-old. If you have one of these little pariahs you know they are constantly ruffling people’s feathers with undignified outbursts of joy and frustration.
Yet, as a parent, you can’t help being optimistic or else you’d never do anything. Some friends had told my wife and me that they’d brought their two-year-old to an Outdoor Forest Theater production and had “a great time.” I was wary, but decided to take the chance, figuring that two-year-olds are still small enough to snatch up and carry away from the trouble they’ve created.
So, despite warnings that I’d be missing a spectacular lighting design by attending the day performance, my wife and I brought our son, Jackson, to his first play, PacRep’s community musical Joseph&The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It’s a classic show full of schizophrenic musical styles, bad wigs and heartfelt performances, and Jackson absolutely loved it.
The first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Joseph is the blueprint for all those big Disney musicals of the ‘90s where the score leaps from syrupy ballad to pop rock to calypso to country.
Despite the set’s somewhat naked appearance in the light of day, the massive cast, led by Laura Ackard as The Storyteller and Shane Michael Rasmussen as Joseph, throw themselves into the tongue-in-cheek musical parable. Joseph tells the story of a young Canaanite, with the power to interpret dreams, who is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers before ascending to a high bureaucratic post in the Pharaoh of Egypt’s government.
Joseph is one of those classic musicals that walks the fine line between jump-up-and-dance euphoria and hunch-down-and-cringe cheesiness, but that’s also what makes it so much fun. The unabashed elbow-pumping jigs and marquee sign facial expressions, the bad wigs and stuffed life-sized camel, the whirling dervish full-cast musical numbers, and the impressively muscular four-person orchestra deliver an over-the-top, laugh-out-loud experience that is truly a very, very good time.
We sat in the back row and let Jackson stand in the aisle so he could dance and cheer with the audience and clap his hands. When Joseph’s brothers’ jumped so did he, when the wives lifted their skirts and twirled, he lifted his shirt and twirled. He was enraptured by the whirl of color and sound on stage. His favorite numbers were the upbeat rockers. He was hypnotized by Kelly Cool as Potiphar’s wife and just about leapt out of his corduroy trousers during the full cast number, “Go Go Go Joseph” that ends the first act.
After intermission, the impressive set design that opened Act II quickly caught his attention and he, along with the rest of the audience, cheered when the Pharaoh, played to the hilt by John Daniel, descended from the throne and did his big ol’ Elvis-thing.
Unfortunately, at this point, the story swings back to Canaan and revisits Joseph’s brothers, who sing a torchy French cantina dirge called “Those Canaan Days.” It’s a great number, but the lack of movement on stage (and the sudden appearance of a little two-year-old femme fatale in the aisle) proved Jackson’s undoing. Jackson and this little girl began running up and down the aisle together, and before long a PacRep official materialized from the forest and ordered them back into their mothers’ care, asserting that their joie de vivre was disturbing the audience.
To the parent, a two-year-old who is not detonating like Chernobyl is often considered “well-behaved.” Obviously, Pacific Repertory has a little stricter definition, which is completely understandable. While my wife hurriedly deported our son, I sheepishly flipped through my program and came across the tight-smile declaration that “Children over six years of age are welcome.” Oops.
So maybe he wasn’t exactly welcome, but Jackson did enjoy the musical a great deal. As he squirmed defiantly in my wife’s arms, banished far from the action on stage, Joseph’s brothers broke into the rhythm-heavy and highly danceable “Benjamin Calypso,” and I found myself thinking, “Jackson would love this one.”
For that matter, the two-year-old in everyone will love PacRep’s Joseph&the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It makes you want to get up and lift your shirt and twirl your hands in the air and run helter-skelter up and down the aisles.
Yet I suggest you fight these urges because the person who comes and drags you out of the theater probably won’t be your mother.
Joseph plays Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm & 7:30pm. The Outdoor Forest Theater, Carmel. Sat: $25/adults; $20/seniors; military and students; $15/youth; $6/children under 12. Thurs-Sun: $20/adults; $18/ seniors, military and students; $12/youth; $6/children under 12. 622-0100 or www.pacrep.org.