In a Class Above the Rest: The Essential Laurie Beechman On Disc
14 Dec 2013
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1982 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Thanks to the global success of Steven Pimlott's massive 1991 West End revival, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has become in most people's minds a juggernaut of an extravaganza built around a heartthrob in a loincloth and replete with a populous children's chorus, nearly life-size replicas of the Wonders of the World and a lengthy "mega-mix" rehashing the show's hits before you can leave the theatre. There isn't much room for an individual to make a human connection amidst all that ruckus, and it's a far cry from the show's humble origins as a church cantata in 1968. By the show's 1982 Broadway premiere, it was already well on the way to the campy pageant it would become in its 90s revival, so perhaps only Laurie Beechman could shine through the spectacle. And shine she did. Beechman must have had gargantuan lungs to fill out Lloyd Webber's lengthy lines with nary a breath and still infuse Tim Rice's lyrics with so much personality and heart. Just try not to be charmed by her perfect embodiment of this quirky telling of the biblical tale. Only Beechman could go from self-consciously anachronistic punchlines to gospel caterwauling and back again without even seeming to blink. It doesn't matter how many calypsos or Elvis impersonators are bouncing around, when Beechman belts out the climactic, "Strange as it seems, there's been a run of crazy dreams. And a man who can interpret could go far, could become a star," there's no question who the real star is.