Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Near West Theatre
Review by Mark Horning

Also see Mark's reviews of Plaid Tidings and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

Robert Kowalewski and Kelcie Nicole Dugger
Photo Courtesy Near West Theatre
Prepare to be dazzled, amazed, and thoroughly entertained as Near West Theatre brings you the spectacular return of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This is one of the earliest shows in Andrew Lloyd Webber's career and remains one of the top five performed musicals in the world.

From the wonderful opening prologue number that introduces Kelcie Nicole Dugger as the narrator, to the full stage finale, Joseph ... will have you smiling, laughing, tapping your feet, and maybe even crying a bit.

Based on the Biblical story found in Genesis, it tells of Joseph, son of Jacob, who even as a young man is an interpreter of dreams. His eleven brothers are angry over the favor their father gives to their younger sibling, and their hatred for Joseph peaks when Jacob gives Joseph a "coat of many colors." This show has it all: favoritism, betrayal, attempted fratricide, fame, loss of station, famine and, most importantly, forgiveness. It features such far-ranging musical styles as big Broadway production numbers, ballads, French torch singing, and calypso.

Says director Bob Navis, "This show is a never-ending parade of surprises that keeps you guessing what is going to happen next ... from the opening note to the finale, our great cast sparkles with energy and heart. Just when you're laughing the most, out of the blue is a plot twist or an achingly beautiful melody that has you crying and laughing at the same time. It is a feast of color, movement, light and magic!"

Near West Theatre is Cleveland's revolutionary community theater that takes a volunteer cast from audition through an intensive ten-week journey that makes them stage ready and worthy,, all in an inclusive environment that looks past race, culture, economic background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, spirituality, age, skill, mental health, physical ability, experience, education and size.

This particular production is as good as anything you are likely to see in the big theaters at Playhouse Square, and at a fraction of the cost. Once you witness a Near West production you will find yourself coming back for every new show. This is great family entertainment that is highly recommended for the entire family.

Kelcie Nicole Dugger absolutely shines as the Narrator and Robert Kowalewski does an outstanding job singing the role of Joseph in this musical that features such showstopping hits as "Joseph's Coat," "One More Angel in Heaven," "Those Canaan Days," "Benjamin Calypso," and Any Dream Will Do." Of special note is Joshua Landis' fine choreography performed by the cast. The stage sparkles as the various costumes add splashes of color throughout, all carefully lit by masterful lighting designers Michael Stein and Tom West.

Performances through December 11, 2016, at Near West Theatre, 6702 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, OH. General admission tickets are just $10 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under; or purchase a reserved Star Seat for $25 each. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 216-961-6391. the cast will be performing two special performances: an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted performance on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. with members of The HeArd helping as interpreters; and a Sensory Performance on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. geared toward those on the Autism Spectrum and their friends and family members. For more information go to or contact Susan Dicken at (216) 961-9750. Note that tickets for these performances are not available online.

Cast: Kelcie Nicole Dugger as The Narrator, Sam Pantalone as Jacob, Robert Kowalewski as Joseph, Kevin Kelly as Potiphar, Julie Penzvalto as Mrs. Potiphar, Elliot Labediker as The Butler, Emily Terry as The Baker and Cory A. Markowitz as The Pharaoh. The roles of the brothers had Domenic Farinelli as Reuben, Jordan Powell as Simeon, Deepak Sharma as Levi, Matthew Brightbill as Naphtali, Steven Walker as Issachar, Charles Adams as Asher, Beck Saine as Dan, Felix Albino as Zebulun, Louis Johnson II as Gad, Phil Pantalone as Benjamin and Tae Terrell as Judah.

Crew: Bob Navis, Jr.: Director, Ben Malkevitch: Music Director, Scott Pyle: Assistant Music Director, Ryan Wolf: Production Manager and Asst. PM, Joshua Landis: Choreographer, Cameron Caley Michalak: Set Designer, Josh Padgett and Perren Hedderson: Technical Directors, Jenny Hitmar Shankland: Charge Scenic Artist, Michael Stein and Tom West: Lighting Designers, Josh Caraballo: Sound Designer, April Rock: Costume Designer, Rachel Paul: Properties Master, and Kathleen Russell: Properties Assistant.

The Orchestra includes Ben Malkevitch conducting and on keyboard, Scott Pyle on keyboard 2, Kirk Georgia and Evan Mitchell trading performances on drums and percussion, Brian Gutkowski on trumpet, Sam Kitzler and Jeremy Wolfe sharing guitar duties on various evenings, and Zak Thomas on bass.

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