Donny Osmond has found the perfect vehicle to shed his bubblegum teen-idol image, turning in an exceptional performance in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” While the pop music may not be a huge stretch for Osmond, his stage charisma makes him plenty capable of carrying this multimillion dollar production.
A vision in a white costume that sets off long, dark curls, he’s physically perfect for Joseph, the pretty boy despised by his 11 brothers for the attentions their father (Michael Fletcher) bestows on him.
Yet Osmond, literally stumbling into an opening sequence, seemed slightly unsure of himself in the beginning. It took some time for him to ease into the character. By the end of the first act, Osmond seemed more comfortable.
At that point, Joseph’s brothers have sold him into slavery. From behind bars , he delivered a powerful solo, “Close Every Door,” which drew a wildly enthusiastic response from the sold-out house.
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His reprise of the song garnered a standing ovation even before the show’s final production number.
Though Osmond proves a strong casting choice, narrator Janet Metz comes up short. While her acting is average, her singing often comes out as an unpleasantly nasal, forced vibrato. On the other hand, Johnny Seaton is spectacular as the Elvis-like Pharoah. His performance drew hoots and shrieks, a somewhat unusual occurrence in the elegant venue.
The remainder of the energetic cast contributes to the production’s exuberance, though a children’s choir does not meet the professional standards of the company.
Director Steven Pimlott moves the tale rapidly along, with the aid of Mark Thompson’s colorful stage design and choreographer Anthony Van Laast adds some energetic dance sequences.
An angled projection screen framed like a picture hangs over centre stage with a staircase on either side. Moving panels across the stage transport characters and scenery.
Joseph’s journey into slavery has Osmond and his captors moving one way across the stage while landmarks move in the opposite direction. A model of Toronto’s CN Tower thrown into the mix drew appropriate laughter from the crowd.
Even padded out to extend the show to full-length status, the score seems to have lost none of its freshness or humor in the 25 years since Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote it.