Thomas Mann wrote “Joseph and His Brothers,” and Kelton Washington is giving show-stopping attention to one of those siblings. Playing Judah in the F.U.D.G.E. Theatre Company revival of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the Boston actor is delivering the title dance in “Benjamin Calypso” with suave and snappy moves that are nothing short of electrifying.
It would be great to say the same of all of his fellow performers. But the energetic revival at the Arsenal Center for the Arts needs more of the consistent and sharp work that Washington and some of his colleagues bring to their singing, dancing and acting.
As the F.U.D.G.E. edition begins, 13 cast members enter as a traveling company—with ostensible spirit and talent—who are about to ignite the show. After all, company artistic director and talented choreographer Joe DeMita, turned the company’s production of “Spring Awakening” into one of the most imaginative and exciting stagings of 2011.
Almost immediately though, one notices some under performed numbers. The traveling company should be as sharp in their singing, dancing and acting as their predecessors in “Spring Awakening.”
Aidan Nevin as Joseph and Alaina Fragoso as Narrator help considerably. Nevin has the right charisma and appeal as Joseph. He sings the pastiche score’s best song “Close Every Door” with affecting vulnerability but he could make it more of the standout number it should be.
Still, Nevin makes a persuasive transition from imprisoned dreamer to Pharoah. Fragoso sings with good feeling and striking resonance as Narrator. She only struggles with a small number of high notes, a challenge which effective musical director Mario Cruz could handle by having this talented performer —who was memorable in “Spring Awakening”— begin some numbers at a lower key.
David Gerrie convinces as Jacob and Joseph’s first Egyptian employee Potiphar. Unfortunately, he proves very disappointing as Pharoah. His attempt at Elvis-like, pelvic gyrations seem half-hearted and certainly not the kind that would make Egyptian groupies swoon. American Idol would dismiss him quickly after a weak delivery of the rock version of the Pharaoh’s dreams about cows and grain.
Best of all is Washington, who brings high energy and style to all of his singing and especially to the calypso during which Judah pleads to spare Benjamin.
The ensemble numbers are uneven. The French cafe number -- featuring two amusing puppets as brothers – is much better than an earlier tepid Texas hoedown.
Sharon Kivnik provides Joseph with a properly vivid coat but needs to make the Egyptian outfits more Mediterranean and atmospheric.
Theatergoers should find the F.U.D.G.E. staging a diverting review of the great biblical story.
Musical buffs are likely to enjoy Nevin, Fragoso and especially Washington but much of this offering of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” needs a richer preparation.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. F.U.D.G.E.Theatre Company, Arsenal Center for the Arts, through August 4. 617-923-8487.