Talent Machine Company production full of stars


At the Annapolis Talent Machine Company's performance of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" Tuesday evening, I serendipitously sat next to two of the most talented adult performers on the local circuit. By intermission, the three of us were incredulous.

"They're unbelievable," said Tim King, a veteran of Colonial Players, the Annapolis Summer Garden Theater and Annapolis Dinner Theater.

"This is an entire stage full of triple threats," added Eloise Ullman, a talented soprano who has starred in the same venues as Mr. King. "They act, they sing and they move. Every single one of them."

All I could do was nod in agreement.

"Joseph" is the rock 'n' rolly spin on the Old Testament story of the Hebrew lad sold into slavery only to become one of the movers and shakers of ancient Egypt. It was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his early period and has proved to be an accessible show for young casts.

But when the Talent Machine cranks up, the age of the performers is something you never consider. This "Joseph" is so colorful, so professional, and so smartly done that it would bring credit to a cast of any age.

Bobbi Smith's choreography is delivered with incredible drive. Each turn of the head is emphatic enough to cause whiplash if the kids aren't careful. The last kids at the corners of stage left and right are just as poised and energetic as the primas and primos stationed down front.

Music director Nicole Roblyer has the ensemble numbers sounding marvelous, from the concubine's chorus to the hilarious "Canaan Days," in which Joseph's brothers don berets in a Gallic toast to the days when they weren't starving to death.

At the tender age of 16, Justin Brill is a full-blown entertainer who sings, moves and speaks like a consummate pro in the role of Joseph.

Arundel High School's Karen Zucco, in her final Talent Machine production, belts out the narrator's songs with real style, and Pat Smith is cute as the Egyptian pharaoh who looks and sounds a lot like another king -- the one who built his pyramid at Graceland, not Giza.

Costumes are hilarious, from the brilliantly colored Dreamcoat itself, to the funkiest set of Ishmaelites you've ever seen.

Of course, the kids are human. The Calypso number was a bit of a mess Tuesday, and the mega-overkill curtain call seemed labored and much too chaotic.

Still, I'm shaking my head in awe of these kids. "Joseph," they sing, "could become a star." A surprising number of them already are.

The Talent Machine's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolo Dreamcoat" plays Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights through Aug. 9 at Key Auditorium on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis. Ticket reservations: 956 -0512.

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