Opens at convention centre New theatre dishes up a Dreamcoat

Niagara - It's not just a new show, it's a new theatre. So a bit of flair is in order.

The coat that lit up Broadway (and launched a thousand pimp jokes) arrives this week at the Scotiabank Convention Centre Niagara's 1,000-seat theatre. 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,' the first of many classics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, starts a two-week run Friday.

For star Adrian Marchuk, there's already enough pressure donning that dazzling wardrobe. But being the first production in the long-awaited new venue also makes this a historic show.

"It's a brand new, beautiful theatre down here at the convention centre," says Marchuk. "We're getting used to it. Everything is sort of being done for the first time, so there are a few hurdles. But the staff is great and the space is really beautiful - really bright and clean."

The significance isn't lost on producer Linus Hand, either. The man who brought 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Aladdin, Jr.' to town with Silver Mist Productions has spared no expense on the show, from the costumes to the lighting to a cast of equity actors pulled from Toronto productions of 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Jersey Boys' and local companies like Oh Canada Eh.

"If you saw Joseph in Toronto in the '90s, you're seeing as much or more with this one," he says. "It looks pretty spectacular."

He chose the show because it appeals to both kids and seniors, has the Andrew Lloyd Webber brand name attached, and has never been staged professionally in Niagara.

And then there are the instantly memorable tunes. Hand knows several people who don't like musical theatre but love 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' solely because of the songs.

"It's a pretty heavy show, but it's put to popular music," he says. "It's a really effective mish mash."

On paper, it's hardly a feel-good affair. Based on a story from the Book of Genesis, it tells the tale of jealousy among Joseph's many brothers because of his coat and perceived preference for him by their father. When it's foretold through dreams that Joseph will eventually rule over them, they sell him into slavery and tell their father he has been killed.

Joseph's power to interpret dreams eventually makes him second-in-command to the Pharaoh, leading to a reunion with his regretful siblings.

"You do feel great in the show, but you have to go down into the depths of despair to come out feeling great on the other end," says Marchuk. "Yes, it's a happy family show, but it is about a guy sold into slavery by his own family.

"It's a story about having faith in God, faith in your calling and faith in your gifts."

The musical enjoyed a popular revival in Toronto in the early '90s with Donny Osmond in the lead role. He toured nationally with the show, and remains the Joseph most people think of, says Marchuk.

"The character is iconic because of Donny Osmond. He's pretty much burned into everybody's memory, so that can be a bit daunting.

"My Joseph will be very different from Donny Osmond's, and that's because I'm a very different person than he is."

By John Law, Niagara Falls Review

Opens at convention centre New theatre dishes up a Dreamcoat