Strange as it seems, there’s been a run of crazy dreams— the dream of playing The Narrator in this 2017 summer production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Toby’s Dinner Theatre. And a woman who can interpret the way Miss Coby Kay Callahan does will go far— in fact? She’ll become a star! Taking her place as the third narrator in this rotating series of leading ladies, Callahan presents a convivial and honest narrative character right from the get-go. Making it apparently clear that she’s “Team Joseph” right from the start, Callahan’s Narrator is spectacular and well worth viewing.
In the run of Narrators thus far, Caroline Bowman stood for “Team Everyone” getting invested with every character’s take on the tale, while Janine Sunday took the platform of “Team Story” being the educational guiding force to its unwinding. Coby Kay Callahan steps up to the plate as the heavy hitter for “Team Joseph” on his side regardless of the situation and this is most often reflected through her animated facial expressions. There are whole subtextual conversations that Callahan has with the Joseph character— played by the sprightly and energetic Wood Van Meter, who is still discovering nuances to the titular character many weeks into the run— simply through these vivacious expressions. One that comes readily to mind is the setup for “Who’s The Thief?” The plot is laid to trap Benjamin, the innocent, and Callahan’s face says it all. “Deceit? Trickery? That’s the route you want to take with your brothers? Are you sure? Well, I’m on your side, so okay, here we go…” There’s even a glorious moment, if you watch her carefully, at the end of “Who’s The Thief” where Joseph vocally blasts Benjamin into oblivion and Callahan retreats, disbelieving that he could take a prank so far.
This brings the next observation of her sensational performance to light; every entrance and exit is performed with superbly clear purpose and intention. Callahan never leaves a scene for the sake of leaving it; there is a moment she crafts with a gesture or movement of her body or again with her expressive facial responses that gives her reason to exit or cause to enter and this enriches the way she tells the story. Though it’s obvious that some of these entrances and exits are crafted for scenic change, prop delivery, or simply because the character is no longer featured in the number, they never feel arbitrary and Callahan makes the connection with what’s happening around her so that her purpose is always clear.
Speaking of clear, the voice that Callahan puts into play throughout the production is crystalline; it resonates loudly and clearly with a burst of radiant panache, showcasing her ability— as is said in the biz— to belt her face off. “Pharaoh’s Story” and “Opening of Act II” are prime examples of this powerful belting ability that she possesses, managing to balance tone and pitch perfectly as she puts a tour de force of sound into those extended notes. Even in her softer sung moments— like the gentle verses sang like a balm directly to Joseph in “Go, Go, Go Joseph” before it breaks loose into a party-scene— there is a rigorous passion connected to what Callahan is singing. Callahan runs through as many different emotions over the course of the show as there are colors in Joseph’s coat, each one being exceptionally expressed through body, face, and voice.
The final moments of the show as Joseph starts “Any Dream Will Do” are deeply satisfying because of the way Callahan concludes her portion of the show. Standing with a firm and honest smile, she nods, descends the stairs and disappears as if to say “My work here is done, Joseph has achieved his happy ending, enjoy the splendor for yourselves, everyone.” It’s a deeply rich and heartfelt moment that has been building up since she first cracked the storybook at the top of the show and started singing. A sensational addition to the Narrator role, Coby Kay Callahan has you deeply invested in everything that’s happening with Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays through August 27, 2017 at at Toby’s the Dinner Theatre of Columbia— 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, MD. For tickets please call (410) 730-8311 or purchase them online.
To read the TheatreBloom review of the full production, click here.