REVIEW — Unless you’ve been buried in a sarcophagus for the last several months, you’re probably aware that the big news out of Tuacahn these days is that David Archuleta, the runner up in Season 7 of “American Idol,” is performing through Sept. 3 as the titular character in the theater’s version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
In Southern Utah, Archuleta might be seen as the heir apparent to Donny Osmond, who was a former “Joseph” himself. After all, he (mostly) grew up in the Beehive State, served a two-year LDS mission, and enjoyed chart-topping success that has provided him with household name familiarity. But “Joseph” is his first major foray into professional musical theater, and while trendy, celebrity casting doesn’t always work out.
So how’d the 31-year-old kid do?
In a word…he crushed it. (Fans will get it). His physical stature may not make him the archetypical “Joseph” character, but on a recent breezy, rainy Ivins evening, it was clear Archuleta’s fans were not there to judge him by his size but rather to appreciate his buttery-smooth vocals. Even uber-familiar songs like “Close Every Door” soared to new heights, aided by Archuleta’s electrifying optional vocal notes.
The singer has grown more confident over the years and backed by an impressive ensemble and a visually stunning stage design the show was simply a fun ride that even a one-hour rain delay at intermission failed to damper.
As has become all-too familiar of late, COVID-positive testing benched both principal Pharaoh performer Jalynn Steele (who rumor has it is terrific), as well as her understudy. So, on less than a day’s notice, Tuacahn veteran and star of countless “Jersey Boys” productions Aaron DeJesus filled in admirably in order that the show could go on. Another highlight was Narrator Katie Lamark, who lacked expressiveness but made up for it with an other-worldly range of a voice.
Director Michael Heitzman, Choreographer Robbie Roby, and Music Director Cameron Kinnear and team have put together a fairly traditional telling of the story. But they’ve injected it with energy and pizazz and complimented it with beautiful projections, inventive backdrops and fabulous lighting (by Adam Koch, Steven Royal, Cory Pattak) that are all worthy of a casino residency.
So what if the Ishmaelites, the Potiphar sequence and the aerial-silk elements didn’t necessarily steal the show? And what if we missed the supposed appearance of a live camel— perhaps another Covid victim? No matter. This “Joseph” is going to be a crowd pleaser worthy of the sold-out crowds for which fans of Mr. Archuleta were hoping.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” plays through Oct. 20 with ticket prices ranging from $32 to $128 depending on date and seat location. Children under age 3 are not permitted; child care is available.
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