Côte St. Luc's 'Joseph' an exhilarating experience

Nicole Arrage, Sam Boucher and Jeanne Motulsky with the rest of the cast in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

When I wrote a preview article on the Côte St. Luc Dramatic Society’s presentation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last month, I was preparing to relive not only the memory of learning about the musical in elementary school, but also hearing the two standout songs — Close Every Door and Any Dream Will Do.

When I actually saw the CSLDS’s presentation at a special gala opening night May 30, my expectations were surpassed a hundredfold. I had forgotten that the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical was a veritable jukebox of several styles of music — even calypso— and that pretty much every song was wonderfully accessible not only to lovers of Broadway musicals, but to anyone who likes popular music. I found myself recalling every single song, even though I last heard most of them in the early 1970s. They’re that memorable.

What also floored me was the presentation itself — a non-stop exuberant, continuously show-stopping succession of jaw-dropping segments. In fact, I marvelled at the fact that the show was an all-music presentation. There was no actual spoken-word dialogue. Big kudos to director Anisa Cameron for pulling off a show in which the eyes of the viewer can never once leave the stage. Blink and you miss something special.

And the singing itself was stellar, especially by Sam Boucher as Joseph and the two narrators (Nicole Arrage and Jeanne Motulsky). All of them were note-perfect, and I think they have a future in the music biz if they want it.

As mentioned above, I saw the play on opening night, and at that point, Cameron announced before the show began that Boucher had injured his back, and that he would be doing some of his part from the side of the stage. Assistant Director Ryan Kligman filled in for the parts of the play that required dancing and other movements, but Boucher took centre stage at times and sang his heart out. (As the accompanying photo shows, Boucher was able to fully play Joseph not too long afterwards).

Cameron had also announced that the actor playing Jacob could not do so at that point because of a death in the family. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who has been producing the plays and produced this one with Councillor Mitch Kujavsky, and acted in many of them, filled the role admirably that night.

That opening night, the CSLDS’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was an example of triumph over adversity. But in general, their presentation is a triumph.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is being presented at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium at the Bernard Lang Civic Centre, 5801 Cavendish Blvd, until June 17. Tickets are available online at CSLDramaticSociety.com, or in person at the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library or the Aquatic and Community Centre. General admission is $32, with $28 tickets available for students and seniors, and for matinees.

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