By Lauren Schild, of Briar Woods High School
Step through Westfield High School’s upbeat and fun-filled rendition of “Joseph” to travel into a vibrant world where brothers make schemes, people make dreams and a coat of colors means more than it seems.
Originally produced on London's West End in 1973, the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice is based on the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis. As the show commenced, three insightful narrators (Ariauna Heck, Michelle Lerch and Sunny Vinsavich) began to weave a tale in which eleven envious siblings sell Joseph (Kevin Clay), Jacob's favorite son, into slavery. Joseph winds up in jail but soon finds himself interpreting the Pharaoh's (Colby Dezelick) dreams. Catapulted by his newfound fame, Joseph becomes an Egyptian power player.
The bold essence of Westfield High School’s show, from the stellar choreography to the engaging chemistry, was evident from the moment the curtain parted to the final bows. Each actor was attentive, focused and spot on with his or her cues, while the coordination between the technical aspects was apparent.
When depicting “the favorite son” Joseph, Kevin Clay not only had astounding vocals due to his pitch and range, but he brought the character to life through his active emotional responses and tone. He conveyed Joseph’s touching journey by delicately demonstrating his crossing from a self-centered boy to a mature young man. The three narrators blended beautifully in their vocals and each allowed the others to shine during solos.
As the choreographers, Colby Dezelick and Avery Hobbs put months of work into creating artistic dances, from tangos to discos, and this dedication was perceptible during each musical number. Not only was the choreography powerful, but it was also perfectly in sync, passionate and the cast never dropped their characters when performing the complicated moves. When onstage, the brothers always communicated well and added humor to the show through credible accents along with personal touches to their characters. Colby Dezelick also played the Pharaoh, a rock and roll king who would be at home at the “Egyptian” Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. With his rock and roll accent and movements, it seemed as though Elvis had risen from the grave to perform in the show. While there were minor unorganized moments, the cast more than recovered by renewing their energy.
The behind the scenes work in this show allowed the performers to truly excel. In Westfield’s production the lighting was set just right with color’s from Joseph’s coat artfully strewn over the cyc, not an easy task. Overall, the lighting cues were efficient and there was little interference with sound. Each of the 378 costumes designed by students were stunning and fit whatever quirky mood a song called for.
In a world were you’re taught to persevere through life’s challenges, the students at Westfield High proved that “if you think it, want it, dream it, then it's real” by bringing to life a show filled with ebullient energy, extraordinary choreography and bright costumes.
Editor's note: This article was provided through The Cappies, a program in which high school students are trained as theatre critics and have their work published in local news outlets.