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The Beck Center’s ‘Joseph’ on balance is well worth seeing

Beck Center for the Arts is not one to shy away from elaborate productions. We are talking large casts, lots of music, lots of dancing and expansive sets and video projections. They have done it again with their production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCoat”. While not a perfect show, what they do put on stage with a cast of nearly 50 performers is pretty darn good and an enjoyable evening of musical theater.

Jacob (Jon Fancher) lives in the desert with his wives and twelve sons and a passel of daughters. Of all his brood, Joseph (Jesse Markowitz) is his absolute favorite and probably heir to head the family in the future. This causes resentment among the brothers. Along with being educated, witty and a charming Joseph has a knack for interpreting dreams. Things come to a head when Jacob gives Joseph an elaborate “coat of many colors” that he proudly shows off to his siblings.

This turns out to be the last straw as the brothers toss Joseph in a pit with plans to kill him. Cooler heads prevail and he is sold as a slave to some passing Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. To cover up their crime, they show Jacob the coat of many colors that they have covered with lambs blood. Jacob is besides himself with grief. In Egypt Joseph is sold to Potiphar (Jared Guerrasio) who is the country’s wealthiest citizen. Joseph works hard and is rewarded by being made head of the household. All goes well until Mrs. Potiphar (Noelle Elise Crites) becomes enamored with the youth and tries to seduce him. Joseph spurns her advances but when the pair are spotted by the jealous husband Joseph is sent to prison.

There he meets the Pharaoh’s butler (Reed Kruger) and the Pharaoh’s royal baker (Kyle Burnett)who have been having strange dreams. Joseph interprets the dreams of the two and his predictions come true. The butler is returned to the household as the Pharaoh (Jimmy Helms) has a series of dreams. Joseph is called in from the prison where he tells the land will have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of devastating crop failures. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of gathering up all of the food during the garden years in preparation for the fore told famine.

As for the Beck Center production it has its good and not so good moments. The stage set by Cheri Prough DeVol is quite brilliant shifting from dessert, to the pyramids to the palace and back to the pyramids making full use of Brittany Merenda’s amazing video projections and symbolic stage renderings. The collection of the three choruses are all very talented. The men get to ham it up for a variety of numbers. Their country western and Paris numbers are a laugh and a half and the Calypso number is finger snapping good. The ladies add superb back up and the children’s chorus are spot on in their singing, body movements and song synchronization. The three really make the show. The lighting design by Steve Shack) is sparkling and properly sets the various moods. Jimmy Helms as Pharaoh does a really shaking Elvis impersonation that gets rewarded with thunderous applause.

On the negative side, the costuming simply does not work well. It has a sort of thrown together feel to it. The sound gremlin that haunts the Senney Theater once again makes an appearance as some of the solo mics were not regulated very well...especially Jesse Markowitz as Joseph who fell short in portraying youth and charisma on stage. Mary Bridget Davies is the Narrator and to be honest just tried too hard at times letting her voice obtain a screechy tone.

Looking past the small faults and adding together the positive virtues of this production it is still well worth the price of the ticket to see. The chorus numbers alone make it worthwhile. Go, Go, Go see this show.

The Beck Center for the Arts will be on stage in the Senney Theater located at 17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio through December 30, 2023. For more information go to or call (216) 521-2540.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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