Here is our Review of Joseph the Dreamer based on the February 28, 2020 performance at the Meralco Theater.

If I were to pick one musical to define Trumpets, it would have to be “Joseph The Dreamer”. Trumpets is home to a tightly curated, but well-received oeuvre of memorable material such as C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe” and “A Horse And His Boy”, as well as an oft-revived version of “The Little Mermaid”, as well as the critically acclaimed “The Bluebird of Happiness”, but “Joseph The Dreamer” has always been the most iconic show in their repertoire. Especially after Gary Valenciano assumed the mantle of the title character in one of the most successful runs in Philippine theatre history.

Then something happened that was rather unexpected. Joseph disappeared without a trace for years. It now makes a much-publicized return on the stage of the Maybank Theater with a reworked book, a rearranged score, and most importantly, a fresh perspective.

Photos by Myra Ho (courtesy of Trumpets)

tightly wound and
incredibly electric

Not to rag on the original production, but few shows come to mind that would be more dated than “Joseph The Dreamer” in its original form. It’s best to view the original production as a product of its time. It should be remembered fondly, but must not be used as the yardstick against which this reimagination should be measured. This new “Joseph The Dreamer” is more like a “Joseph 2.0”. It strips down the material to its most fundamental moving parts and rebuilt from the ground up. Directed by Paolo Valenciano, the show received a much-needed booster shot. Gone was the slow, deliberate pace, and instead we are treated to a refreshingly snappy performance that was tightly wound and incredibly electric.

But the most significant change was the score and choreography. Myke Salomon, the Wunderkind of The Modern Filipino Musical, and MJ Arda, master choreographer, managed to drag the score and choreography respectively into the present which completely changed the vibe of the show like flipping a light switch. Of course, the songs are great in their Cam Floria original form, but Salomon elevates it and frames it in new and interesting arrangements. Then Arda’s energetic and masterful choreography delights the audience. It completely overhauls the show in a very satisfying way: together, they basically took a pressure washer and blasted away years off of the original show with sheer creativity.

Sam Concepcion leads a talented cast of actors who bring the vision of Valenciano, Salomon, and Arda, to life. Playing the titular character, Concepcion was a force of nature onstage, effortlessly executing Arda’s choreography, making movements look clean, sharp, and organic. Kayla Rivera plays Asenath, the narrator/wife of Joseph, who with her soulful voice, captivates the audience. Of special note is the role of Mrs. Potiphar, played by Alys Serdenia who stole the show in the best possible way. Her comedic timing in that all too brief a role left a deep impression and could be considered one of the highlights of the show.

Sam Concepcion was a
force of nature onstage.

Bottom line: “Joseph the Dreamer” delivers on its promise. It retains the charm, DNA, and the message of the original show, but packaged in a way that is young, vibrant, and engaging. If this is what the new Trumpets has in store, I think that it is well on its way to a full and triumphant return as a fixture of Philippine Theatre for years to come.

“Joseph The Dreamer” is running until March 8, 2020 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center. Tickets available at TicketWorld.

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