The Right Note

There are several reasons to see Phamaly’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Denver Center. To begin with, the musicals staged by this company of physically handicapped actors and skillfully directed by Steve Wilson are always a delight, and musical director Donna Debreceni adds her whiz-bang irresistible spirit to the action. And then there’s Leonard Barrett, whom we last saw playing the Beast in a Phamaly production of Beauty and the Beast four years ago, who is returning as the Narrator.

“It feels wonderful,” Barrett says. “It’s home. Beautiful people, beautiful energy. And interesting people, because the things they deal with are unique. And of course, I’m one of them.” Barrett has multiple sclerosis. “I love singing,” he continues, “and this gives me an opportunity to sing in a style I wouldn’t normally. I lean toward jazz, and this is to the meter. You can’t mix it up; you’ve got to hit the beat. It makes me work my voice in a different way.

“Steve has the show taking place in an institution for people with disabilities. All of a sudden, something moves within them, and when it’s done, they’ve changed. It’s magical. When you’re in the first week of rehearsal and you hear the Phamaly voices sing the closing number and you already feel tears coming...there’s a connection between this production and this particular company that transcends the worldly.”

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat opens today in the Space Theatre at the Denver Performing Arts Complex and runs through August 10; for information and tickets, $20 to $30, go to phamaly.org or call 303-893-4100.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mon., July 28, 7:30 p.m. Starts: July 10. Continues through Aug. 10, 2014

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman