The play’s the thing

The eleven brothers of Joseph often sat so that the letters on their shirts spelled out words, such as SIN.


As part of a busy summer, The Wife and I managed to see all three plays in Albany’s Washington Park, the latter with the Daughter and a couple of friends.

Late in July, we saw Cabaret. The reviewer in the local newspaper called it the best show Park Playhouse has ever done, and that’s over a span. I’ve gone to the vast majority of them, and I would tend to agree. What was frustrating, though, was this ongoing commentary from some guy who “seemed” to know what he was talking about who was picking apart. “The woman playing Sally Bowles is too old” was the only one I specifically remember. No, it’s not the Cabaret that I saw at the movies in 1972 with a young Liza Minelli and a fascinating Joel Grey, but it still delivered a wallop.

A couple of weeks later, we saw Hairspray, which, of course, was a 1988 movie that was turned into a Broadway musical that was turned into a movie musical. I’ve only seen the original 1988 movie, the John Waters flick with Divine, which I’ve recently borrowed from the library. The show was fine, but what was really lacking was a live band. The singers were obviously performing to a soundtrack. At least on one song, the track skipped like a defective CD. To her credit, the person placing Tracy’s mom, when the music as shut off, finished the song a capella. The sound was also mixed too low; I think Tracy’s dad, who was otherwise great, missed a sound cue, I suspect because he couldn’t hear it.

The following week, it was Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, performed by teenagers and a few tweens. I know this only from an LP that came out over 40 years ago. The actual musical has far more distinct songs, but, in the main, not better ones. The performances were uneven but fun; the five muses who essentially narrate the story had two girls who sang quite well, two that were uneven, and one not so good. Joseph and the Pharaoh as Elvis were quite good. The eleven brothers of Joseph often sat so that the letters on their shirts spelled out words, such as SIN, when they lied about Joseph’s “death” and GRIN, when they are all finally reunited.
From the movie Cabaret- Money.
The trailer for the original movie Hairspray.
The Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat movie, starring Donny Osmond.

From CBS Sunday Morning:
“Shakespeare in the Park” turns 50
“Star Trek” in the Park

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