Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Joseph, King of Dreams): Musical vs. Movie review


Joseph Explains the King’s Dreams. Charles Foster, 1897. Public Domain.

Every Catholic knows the story about Joseph, especially the one who was sold into slavery by his brothers and went to Egypt where he became an interpreter of dreams. Due to his popularity, a movie was produced as well as a musical. Granted, the movie is called “Joseph, King of Dreams” while the musical is called “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. They both have different songs, but follow the same plot. Therefore, the question remains: is the musical better than the movie or the movie better than the musical?

DISCLAIMER: This story contains spoilers for both the movie and the musical. So, if you do not want spoilers then you probably should not read this article. However, if you do not mind spoilers, then by all means, please enjoy this article!

The movie starts with the birth of Joseph who is instantly favored by Jacob (his father). Despite being favored by his father, Joseph tries to help his brothers whenever possible. After Joseph receives his multicolor coat (along with Joseph’s gift for interpreting dreams), they start to envy him. As a result, Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph into slavery and Joseph is taken to Egypt where he was bought by Potiphar and made a slave. Since Joseph displays great intelligence, Potiphar makes Joseph his most trusted attendant. However, Joseph is soon falsely accused of assaulting Potiphar’s wife and Potiphar throws Joseph into prison. While in prison, Joseph interprets the dreams for two of Pharaoh’s servants: the butler and the baker. In the butler’s dream, Joseph tells the butler that he will soon be set free and work for Pharaoh again. However, in the baker’s dream, Joseph tells the baker that he will be executed. Joseph’s interpretations catch the attention of Pharaoh who also has a dream that he does not understand. So, Pharaoh brings Joseph to his court to interpret his dream and Joseph warns Pharaoh that a big 7 year famine is coming to Egypt. Since Joseph is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and is the most trustworthy man in Egypt, Pharaoh gives Joseph the title of minister and second-in-command (also earning Joseph the name “Zaphnath-Paaneah”). After testing his brother by making them bring Benjamin (Joseph’s youngest brother) to Egypt, he is reunited with his brothers and sees his father again. The movie ends when the Israelites relocate to Egypt because of the famine.

The movie is good but has some major flaws. Similar to Anastasia, the movie seems appealing to a younger audience and is childish and boring for an older audience. The songs are good despite the movie’s mediocre plot. One of the most entertaining songs in the movie is the song “Better than I,” where Joseph comes to terms with God and lets God choose Joseph’s path in life. The acting is exceptional in the movie especially in the scene when Joseph’s brothers betrayed him. A major problem with the movie involves the character, Benjamin. His acting is good, but how he is portrayed is not. In the actual story of Joseph, Benjamin would have been a young boy when Joseph’s brothers betrayed Joseph. However, the movie implies that Benjamin had not even been born yet, which is not accurate. After all, Joseph loved Benjamin more than his other brothers which was why he asked for Benjamin to be brought to Egypt in order to determine if his brothers had changed. So, it makes no sense why Joseph would ask for Benjamin if he knew nothing about Benjamin. Introducing Benjamin earlier as a young boy and having Joseph recognize him when his brothers bring Benjamin to Egypt would improve the movie.

The musical, however, is different because there are almost no lines that are spoken. The story catches the audience’s attention and it makes them wonder how it will end. One of the amazing songs that is sung in the musical is “Close Every Door”. In this song, Joseph laments everything that has happened while offering up his wrongful imprisonment. This song is so powerful that it makes the next song “Go, Go, Go Joseph” even more meaningful. Joseph’s brothers in the show are both intriguing and hilarious, especially when they sing “Benjamin Calypso”. It is also amusing that the musical has Pharaoh act like Elvis Presley (“The King of Rock and Roll”) when he is announced and sings “Song of the King”. However, there are two problems with this musical. Adding some lines would make the acting portion a little better. True, Hamilton is a sung-through musical and one of the most popular musicals in all of Broadway. However, the main difference between Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat and Hamilton is that with Hamilton some lines are not sung. In fact, there are non-singing scenes in Hamilton where it is meant to only be spoken to convey the seriousness of the plot and emotions of the actors. With Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat, no lines are spoken and the actors have to memorize lyrics instead. As a result, the emotions of the characters are lacking. The major problem with the musical is (again) Benjamin. If people thought that the movie version of Benjamin was weak, then they have not seen the musical version of Benjamin. For some ridiculous reason, the musical decided to have Benjamin be part of Joseph’s brothers in their envy for him. As a result, Benjamin was there when the brothers betrayed Joseph. It (again) does not make any sense why Joseph thought of Benjamin more highly than his other brothers. If Benjamin was with his brothers in betraying Joseph, then why would Joseph use Benjamin to test his brothers? The same improvement applies to the musical because without it, Benjamin seems like a pointless character in this story

When comparing the musical with the movie, the musical is a little better. True, there are moments in this musical when most of the audience would be frustrated. However, the songs are more humorous and emotional in the musical. The musical would be even better if the writers did not ruin Benjamin’s supporting role and his influence on Joseph.