|(The cast of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at Beck Center.)|
First, I let the girls do their usual gripes about how Hollywood has defamed and bowdlerized their reputations. Gertie moans over the sugary Julie Andrews ruining her tempestuous glory, and then Fanny kvetches about how that Streisand laid pretentious schmaltz on her kosher comedy. After the grousing, I placate their ethereal egos by soliciting their advice on what Christmas shows to see in Cleveland.
|(The author and his beloved Gertrude Lawrence at Otto Moser's Restaurant in downtown Cleveland.)|
Fanny, who revels in the pulling off of stunts due to her own legendary run as adolescent Baby Snooks when well past 40, urged me to see the one-man version of "It's A Wonderful Life," titled "This Wonderful Life," at the Cleveland Play House.
Gertie was right. Cespedes is a genius of goosed-up pastiche. "Joseph" was written for church pageants back in the days when Webber's creative borrowing seemed fresh and cheeky. Every number is in a different style, ranging from country-western and Elvis rock 'n roll to French bistro music. Recruiting Connor O'Brien, who looks like the lost Osmond, to play the eponymous Joseph, Cespedes has a field day interpreting every musical number in an equally vibrant dance style. The array is so dizzying that we encourage the administrators at Beck to engage the audience in a guess-the-choreographer-and-show game. Here are some helpful hints: think Robbins' Sharks, Champion's shriners, Fosse's denizens of the Pompeii Club and de Mille's rodeos. My suggestion for the winner would be the first prize of a certificate for Cespedes' services to choreograph a bar mitzvah, wedding or briss. He can make any amateur dance like a twinkle toes.
Those of you who have sworn off this show after your fifth viewing at the local junior high should reconsider, for it has undergone a glorious resurrection and is perhaps only slightly less fulfilling than the dance-rich "Billy Elliott" that is wowing them at PlayhouseSquare.
|(Fanny Brice shares a hallowed place on the wall at Otto Moser's Restaurant with Gertrude Lawrence and friends.)|
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoast" plays at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood through Sunday, Jan. 2. For tickets, call 216-521-2540.
"It's Wonderful Life" runs at the Cleveland Play House through Sunday, Dec. 19. For tickets, call 216-795-7000, ext. 4.