Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
If you love "American Idol" and bare male chests, then this current packaging of the reliable theatrical warhorse Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will no doubt amaze and delight you. After all, it stars two Idol alums, the newlywed couple Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, the latter of whom parades around in the buff from his waist up, Putin-style, when he's not wearing the aforementioned robe. It's all in service of this glitzy and slickly produced production that tells the biblical story of Joseph, his 11 brothers and Joe's tale of banishment and redemption. That is, if you can follow the story amid all the spinning visual effects, non-stop dance routines and Young's palpitating pecs. The story matters little in this kind of show, where TV-familiar celebs are visiting the hinterlands and bestowing their talents. This iteration of the 40-year-old musical Joseph is just a vehicle for star turns, a theatrical version of TV's The Love Boat, where B and C (and sometimes D) list actors could find a bit more glory. DeGarmo and Young aren't nearly that washed up. But having recently come from a "Samson & Delilah" musical gig, they may want to resist getting packaged this way too many times in the future. This is the first stop on the Joseph tour, and the company seems to be in full stride. And although neither DeGarmo nor Young have brilliant Broadway-style voices (hers a bit thin and reedy, his a tad flat), they perform the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice score with energy. But once the curtain call hits, interwoven with a megamix of songs you just heard, you may be hoping not to encounter another Joseph for an eon or so. (Christine Howey)
Through March 16 at PlayhouseSquare | 1516 Euclid Av. | 216-241-6000.
Made in America
First, a confession: I love plays and movies about salespeople. It's a small and strange thematic niche, to be sure, but I'm all over any show that deals with people selling things to other people—whether it the siding salesmen in the flick Tin Men, William H. Macy's car salesman in Fargo, or the den of nefarious realtors in Glengarry Glen Ross. So maybe that's why I really like Made in America by local playwright Joel Hammer, now at Dobama Theatre. This two-hander focuses relentlessly on a million dollar piping deal being negotiated for a huge government project, and the customer Barry (played by Hammer) holds all the cards. Esther (Colleen Longshaw) is an African-American woman who is trying to nail down the sale after many months of effort. But Barry turns out to be a sleazebag who is after more than a lower price. After an Act One scene in a bar, where drinks flow as fast as innuendoes, the play, um, climaxes in Esther's hotel room where many secrets are revealed. Hammer's overall conceit is clever and his dialogue mostly rings true. And director Scott Miller maintains the tension that is critical to the piece, bringing fine performances out of his actors. But playwright Hammer eventually gets a bit too cute with the surprise twists and turns in the play's waning moments, calling into question the veracity of what we're seeing. That may be his message, that it's all a game, but the takeaway is less effective if neither person really has anything at stake.
Through April 6 at Dobama Theatre | 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights | 216-932-3396.