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Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
 
Sure, it may seem on the surface that Andrew Lloyd Webber's first musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is all sugary sweet and family-friendly. Everything thinks of children's choruses, calypsoes (or would that be calypsi?) and Donny Osmond. But have you ever really looked at the show? Not just watched it, but really looked at it? There are several things that strike me as quite queer (and I mean in the olden days way):

- What sets the plot in motion is that Joseph's brothers are jealous, because their father Jacob obviously loves Joseph more than any of his other sons. So much more, in fact, that he buys him new clothes that, while garish (29 different colors, INCLUDING azure and russet) are rather thoughtful. Is favoritism really good parenting? Should we sympathize with Jacob at the end, when all this time he is neglectful toward his own children? This move typically turns Joseph's brothers against him. Any older sibling can sympathize when the brothers say "Being told we're alsorans/Does not make us Joseph fans".

- Joseph also is constantly telling his brothers about dreams that he's had in which their eleven small sheaves of corn turn to bow to his enormous sheaf (from what the ladies say, I hear his sheaf ain't the only thing that's enormous...and by that I mean his penis). This bowing theme is repeated again in that eleven stars bow before his (quite the feat considering that most stars I've seen don't have waists). Am I the only one that sees Joseph as kind of a cocky bastard? If my nonexistent brother started telling me that I was going to spend the rest of my life bowing to him, I'd sell his ass to a hairy bunch of Ishmaelites in a second.

- Joseph the Ishmaelite Slave is later bought by a captain named Potiphar. Joseph is a devoted slave and is promoted to Leader of the Household (a maximum promotion!). Joseph then goes and celebrates by screwing Potiphar's wife. Potiphar, understandably, goes into a rage and throws Joseph in jail, where he sings a sad but empowering song. And yet, I cannot help but go, "Hey, you fuck the master's wife, you pay the price." (Also, am I the only one who finds it weird that, beyond the paper-thin narrator, the only other significant female character in the entire show is a total slut?)

- While we're on the subject of female characters, why is it that in every production the wives are the same age as the brothers? Was it a case of babies making babies in the land of Israel? And how come Jacob's daughter Dinah, who is clearly mentioned in the Bible, is never referenced here? To busy cooking dinner and getting married off, I suppose?

- The brothers, after selling Joseph off, lie to their neglect-my-sons-and-deny-my-daughter's-existence father, telling him that Joseph died trying to wrestle a goat that threatened their lives. Now remember, they all live in the Middle East. That's the best they could come up with? A killer goat? Especially since they attack a goat earlier in the show, we learn that the Israeli goats are not that tough. Couldn't they say a car bomb or a kimono dragon or Red Buttons? Any one of those makes more sense than a freaking goat.

- In the typical Act One closer "Go Go Go Joseph", has anyone else noticed that the point where everyone starts celebrating comes when Joseph tells the Baker that he's going to die? Is the Baker that much of a bastard?

- The Pharaoh (which, after checking the Merriam Webster website, I found out I've been spelling wrong all this time. Oops. Apparently it's "o" before "a" except after "r") has the following dream that he needs Joseph to interpret: He sees seven fat cows, followed by seven thin cows, who eat the fat cows but stay thin. He then sees seven good ears of corn, followed by seven bad ears of corn, who eat the good corn but continue to be bad. Joseph predicts that there will be seven years of plentiful food, followed by seven years of famine. I'm sorry, but was Joseph really the only one who could figure that one out?

- After interpreting the dream, the Pharaoh decides that Joseph is going to be his right hand man to help his country through the famine. This raises two questions. First off, what is the link between a person's skills at dream interpretation and their skills at economic planning? Second, do you think the Egyptian people had a problem with the Pharaoh assigning someone to that Cheney-like position?

- When we go back to the brothers in Canaan, they are starving victims of the famine. They note, "It's funny, but since we lost Joseph, we've gone to the other extreme." Again, there is the belief that dream interpretation can affect the economy. Even in these days of a faith-based presidency, that's just absurd. I know a woman who can interpret my dreams, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to blame her if I'm going blame her for the national debt.

- The brothers go to Egypt, where they meet an unrecognizable Joseph. Seeing that his brothers don't know who he is, he proceeds to screw with their heads. First he accuses them of being spies, and then he frames the youngest brother Benjamin for stealing a golden cup and throws him into jail. Again, for a title character in a feel-good musical, he's a bit of a dick.

- After finding out that it has been Joseph all this time (in a song called, oddly enough, "Joseph All The Time"), the brothers show no anger, but only happiness. Again, if my nonexistent brother acted like a dick toward me and threw another of my nonexistent brothers in jail, I'd be pissed. But then again, I'm not part of that dream interpretation-economy conspiracy.

- "So Jacob came to Egypt/No longer feeling old/And Joseph came to meet him/In his chariot of gold". Maybe just a tad ostentatious?

- The last song in the show is called "Any Dream Will Do". I'm still trying to figure out this song's effect on the Middle Eastern economy.

- The last line that is sung in the show is when the entire cast (brothers, wives, kids, etc.) sing "Give me my colored coat, my amazing colored coat". Isn't this what sets the plot in motion? The fact that only Joseph was given a colored coat, and everyone else was left out in the dust (literally. We are in the desert here)? Does this mean that nothing was accomplished in the show, and that the brothers still feel like they're playing second fiddle to an pompous, dream-interpretating ass?

So go see the La Habra Depot Theater production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (opening Friday and playing through February 13th) to see these irregularities and more!!!

P.S. After doing some research, I found that the brother Simeon, the character that I play in this fine show, has a sorded history. He is originally the brother held prisoner by Joseph in exchange for Benjamin (more reason to hate the guy). He also, along with Levi, massacred the Shechemites for raping his sister Dinah, who he later married. Um......eww. This is one screwed up family.

Comments:
I wish you had pointed this all out sooner, 'cause you KNOW I would have listed myself as "Dinah" in the program ... just for kicks. :)
 
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