Friday, April 23, 2010

Seeing Eric Kunze in Joseph at CLOSBC

This is not the first time I've seen Eric portray this role, the last being with Reagle Players in Waltham, Massachusetts in 2008. To my delight and relief, this version of "Joseph" is G rated. The costuming is imaginative, colorful and modest. The one scene that could be (and often is) over the top, is where Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph. Even in the film, that scene is depicted as an orgy. But director Ron Kellum is able to convey the story without making it uncomfortable to watch, which is reassuring to those planning to bring their young children to this production. Compared to the last show I saw Eric in, "Miss Saigon" in Houston, this is a piece of fluff, but it is nice to see him smiling. Eric's smile is so killer it could be used as a secret weapon. The lyrics, "I look handsome, I look smart. I'm a walking work of art" could have been written for him. On a serious note, the redemptive theme of forgiveness is presented clearly under Kellum's direction and Eric's acting ability.

The entire cast is strong, beginning with Kelli Provart, whose rich, full voice adds dimension to her role as the narrator. I kept thinking she reminded me of someone and finally I realized it was Ann Margaret, both in looks and the way her voice sounded.  Paul Ainsley does an admirable job on the dual role of Jacob/Potiphar and Robert J. Townsend, with his huge pompadour and blue suede boots brings down the house with his spot on impersonation of Elvis. I loved watching the children in the chorus, impressed that each and every one of them was in the moment and engaged all throughout the production. As a choir director, I know that is no small feat. In a lovely touch, one of the small boys even gets to sing with Eric stage front at the end of the show, when he puts the huge coat on him for a duet reprise of "Close Every Door".

I liked the blocking of "Grovel, Grovel", as each of the brothers falls down in a row in front of him, Eric steps over each prostrate body. The dancing chorus was impressive, especially the men in their "Canaan Days" number. Ty Taylor, especially, impressed with his soulful rendition of "Benjamin Calypso". According to his bio, he starting singing at the age of five in church and one could well imagine it. This show must be fun for the ensemble because of the variety of singing and dancing it offers, from French accents to rapping to belly dancing. At least it looks like fun from the perspective of the audience, which, I imagine, is the goal of the show. If that is the case, the goal was achieved, judging from the humming and smiling audience upon exiting the auditorium.