The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools.
I had high hopes walking into the Chartiers Valley’s lobby: the colorful flags and balloons throughout the area suggested that this show would not disappoint, and it did not.
“Joseph” tells of the biblically-inspired tale of the favorite of the twelve sons of Jacob. Due to the fact that his father clearly likes him most, his brothers are envious. One day, Jacob gives Joseph a coat of many colors, which puts the other eleven over the edge. They sell Joseph to Egyptians as a slave. While his family works on their farm, Joseph experiences major setbacks in the land of Egypt.
Starting Act II, Joseph is recognized for interpreting dreams. Soon the word gets to the Pharaoh, and he summons Joseph to explain a dream of his. Joseph warns of a famine soon to plague Egypt. His prediction turns out truthful, and the Pharaoh adopts Joseph as his right hand man.
Back on the farm however, his family is not doing as great. They reminisce about the “Canaan Days” and have come to regret selling Joseph to slavery and admit to even missing his dreams. The 11 brothers travel to Egypt as a last effort to acquire food. They are sent to speak with Joseph, though they do not recognize him. After a while Joseph reveals himself. The brothers are overjoyed and they return home together.
Having seen this musical before, I was not expecting to be surprised. However, Chartiers Valley did a great job showcasing talent and incorporating unique elements to make their show stand out. I was impressed by the great dancers, choreography, and energy on stage, and also with the drum line that came out during the curtain call. They also included a different take on the narrator. Instead of a single narrator, they had two, which opened up opportunities for great harmonies.
With a large cast it would have been easy for some people to become disengaged from their roles but that was not the case. Each individual member of the cast played their part with enthusiasm, especially during any of the great dance numbers. There were elementary school students that had small roles in the musical as well, and they were just as excited to be on stage.
They had a great use of their space. The auditorium was nice and spacious which allowed them to incorporate some cool elements throughout the show, such as characters walking through the aisles before appearing on stage. Their orchestra was on stage during the entire performance, but that did not take anything away from the show. In fact, it even allowed the lead playing Joseph to play the violin during a scene he was not in.
The most pleasant surprise was the lead, Devin Moore. This freshmen who played Joseph stole the show with his performance of “Close Every Door.” Everything he did seemed effortless, and this role was a great fit for him. He was by far my favorite part of this performance, and the audience did not hesitate to give him a standing ovation as soon as he came out for a bow. Other stand-out performers included Josh Richards as Judah, in “Benjamin Calypso,” and Mitchell McDermott, who played the guitar while singing “A Pharaoh’s Story.” Both displayed great charisma and were entertaining to watch.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this performance of “Joseph.” This family-friendly musical has upbeat songs and could brighten anyone’s day. This show is always a favorite of mine, the familiar plot and classic music by Andrew Lloyd Webber never fail to captivate me. It was opening night, so a few technical mistakes were made, but they were overshadowed by the energy the whole cast brought to the stage.
Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson. For more high school musicals coverage, go to http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/ and scroll down.