In the hallowed spaces of Lakeshore St. Andrews Church (LSA), a tale as old as time took on new life. Last weekend, Cardinal Music Productions unveiled its unique concert version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” This rendition, stripped of the usual theatrical glitz like elaborate sets and costumes, was a bit of a gamble that paid off in vibrant hues.
Purists might balk at the idea of a concert version of a musical that has historically relied on lavish sets and costumes. But under the adept direction of Bayleigh Cardinal and the expert musical guidance of Walter Riggi of Riggi Media International, this was no mere sing-through. It was a full-throttle musical experience that allowed the story to unfurl through the sheer force of its iconic songs.
From the opening number, through to “Jacob and Sons,” and to the rousing finale of “Any Dream Will Do,” the performers commanded the stage with a vivacity that made you forget the absence of intricate scenery. The venue itself, a church with the capacity to seat 750, offered a unique backdrop. With its large altar and advanced light and sound systems, LSA proved to be a character in the show in its own right.
Melissa Mills as the Narrator was nothing short of a revelation. Her vocals soared through the ceilings of LSA, imparting each lyric with emotional weight. Caiden Finlay as Joseph was a ball of youthful exuberance and vulnerability, all while sporting the legendary coat, borrowed from Theatrix in Hamilton.
Cham Deschaine brought depth to the patriarch Jacob, appearing exactly as one might conjure from the ancient biblical passages. And then there was Brandon Presley’s Pharaoh, an electrifying presence who rocked the house with his Elvis Presley-inspired rendition of “Song of the King.”
The concert format lent itself to the natural acoustics of the venue in a very organic way. Walter Riggi’s skillful handling of the sound transformed each note into a spiritual event. The result was what music director Bayleigh Cardinal could only dream of – a sonic experience that lifted the narrative into the realm of the ethereal. This was most evident in songs like “Go, Go, Go Joseph” and “Benjamin’s Calypso,” which seemed to vibrate through the very walls of the church.
Another standout was the innovative use of lighting, which flooded the church with a riot of colors that amplified the emotional undertones of each scene. The concert format also served as a poignant tribute to director Joseph Cardinal, the founder of Cardinal Music Productions, who made his theatre debut in a production of “Joseph” back in 1996. This rendition was clearly a labor of love, honoring both the traditional aspects of the musical and the innovative spirit that theatre continually needs to thrive.
While a concert version of a musical might not be every purist’s cup of tea, Cardinal Music Productions’ rendition of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was a feast for the senses, steeped in passion, powerful sound, and a kaleidoscope of lights.
Here, each performer added a unique hue to the technicolor dreamcoat that was this show. It was a vivid testament that sometimes less is indeed more, as long as the “less” is crafted with skill, imagination, and a lot of heart.
The production continues for three more performances this weekend at LSA, and for those who have yet to witness this colorful dream, tickets are available for $30 at the door or in advance at cardinalmusicproductions.com.