Double feature weekend theater in Lancaster, and beyond

By on March 27, 2019

On a good weekend, I get to take in a show at a local theater. On a great weekend, I get to see two of them. This was a great weekend.

Erica Clare (left) is the Narrator, and Sam Brackley plays the role of Joseph in Dutch Apple’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat.” The show closes May 4.

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at Dutch Apple

I knew the biblical story of Joseph from growing up Lutheran. Joseph is the favorite son of father, Jacob. His 11 brothers are terribly jealous. What pushes the envy to a fever pitch is the gifting to Joseph from his father a beautiful multi-colored coat. The brothers conspire to sell Joseph to an Egyptian slaver passing through, and they rend the coat and cover it in goat’s blood, telling their father that Joseph must have been been attacked and eaten by wild animals. Though slavery and imprisonment are in the cards for Joseph, he eventually earns favor with the Pharaoh due to his ability to interpret dreams. The story comes full circle when Jacob’s brothers come to Egypt begging for help during a famine. Instead of seeking revenge, Jacob forgives them for their betrayal, and is reunited with his beloved father.

The musical version of this biblical tale was written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who also partnered on “Evita” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

This was my first time seeing “Joseph,” so I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, “Joseph” is a sung-through musical, meaning the show has little to no dialogue. All plot exposition occurs through music. And what amazing music it is! The tunes run the gamut from tender ballads to reggae, hoe down, French cabaret, Elvis-style, go-go, and calypso.

The costumes were just as colorful as the musical fare. While the “amazing technicolor dreamcoat” took center stage in a few scenes, the costumes (designed by John P. White) and lighting (skillfully planned by Chris McCleary) not only drive the plot, but enhance it.

Standout vocal performances were delivered by narrator Erica Clare and Sam Brackley, who performed the role of Joseph. I also really enjoyed the vocal and character work of Tyler Price as Judah (I praised him last fall for his turn as “Sweaty” Eddie Souther in “Sister Act.”)

The show also contained a children’s chorus. There are 24 kids involved in the show, but only half perform in any given production. Put on a stage 12 kids, 12 brothers, six wives, a sad dad, a Pharaoh, and a narrator — well, let me tell you, I’m glad my seat was in the back of the theater where I was able to take it all in.

Running full-tilt from curtain to curtain, “Joseph” is a treat for the eyes, ears, and soul. If you don’t go home humming at least one of the songs, you surely must be dead inside.

The show will continue to run through May 4 at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, located at 510 Centerville Road, Lancaster. Tickets to enjoy the show and the all-you-can-eat buffet can be purchased online at dutchapple.com.

Michael Witmer (”Tim Allgood,” left) and Rich Druby (”Lloyd Dallas”) made backstage deals during Act II of “Noises Off.”

‘Noises Off’ at Lebanon Community Theatre

Did you know that Lebanon had a community theatre? I certainly didn’t, until their PR person sent information about an upcoming show to my work email. Turns out, the company is turning 57 this year.

Add to this that the first email I received from them was about one of my favorite plays, “Noises Off,” the decision was made. I took the 23-mile drive north to catch a matinee on Sunday afternoon.

“Noises Off” is a play-within-a-play, and tells the story of a troupe of actors rehearsing and performing a play entitled “Nothing On.” As with any group working closely, there are relationships, drama, and feuds — which eventually make their way from backstage into the spotlight. And the results are hilarious.

I first saw “Noises Off” as a 1992 film staring comedy great Carol Burnett, along with Marilu Henner, John Ritter, Christopher Reeve, and Michael Caine. It’s a play very dependent on physical comedy, props, and entrances and exits to carry off the farce.

While the stars of the film had multiple takes in order to get it right, the actors from Lebanon Community Theatre did not. Not that it mattered. They were astounding. Act II, in particular, where the action moved into the backstage area of the set, had me laughing so much I could barely breathe.

“Noises Off” is a perfect combination of physical and verbal humor. It’s an ambitious undertaking, and the gang from Lebanon were definitely up to the challenge. Go see it. And if you haven’t seen the film, see that too. It’s a hidden gem.

The play still has four more showings: March 28-30 at 7:30 p.m., and March 31 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at lebanoncommunitytheatre.org. The venue is located at East Maple Street and Theatre Drive, in Stoever’s Dam Park, Lebanon.

Melissa Hunnefield is the features editor at The Ephrata Review and Lititz Record-Express. She welcomes your feedback at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

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