There is something life-affirming about a light and peppy musical. “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is about as light and peppy as it gets as it takes a biblical story and gives it a dazzling, toe-tapping makeover.
The latest national tour of “Joseph” is stopping over at the Fox Theatre through May 11 and injects quite a bit of eye-popping stage design into this Andrew Lloyd Webber classic.
Headlining the show are former “American Idol” contestants turned husband-and-wife duo of Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo. Young plays our dream-interpreting hero Joseph and DeGarmo is the Narrator who sings us through the plot points from the book of Genesis.
Young doesn’t bring a whole lot to the production other than good looks and a chiseled physique, but this isn’t exactly a show that demands strong performances so it is easy to let him slide.
DeGarmo is a much stronger vocalist and she’s got a bouncy personality that is perfectly suited to this silly little show.
For those of you who have been playing hooky from Sunday School, Joseph is the favorite of Jacob’s 12 sons. This favoritism compounded with his prophetic dreams of future greatness draw the ire of his brothers. The final straw comes when Jacob (William Thomas Evans) gives Joseph a coat of many colors to loudly proclaim him as the favored son.
His brothers are so overcome with jealousy that they sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father that he had been murdered. Joseph is then taken to Egypt as a slave where he draws attention for his ability to interpret dreams. This gift comes to the attention of the pharaoh who is being vexed by a particular dream involving cows. Joseph correctly interprets the dream to foretell a coming famine and the Egyptians are able to avoid starvation.
Joseph is promoted to pharaoh’s second in command while the famine strikes Joseph’s family particularly hard. His brothers come to Egypt to beg for food, not recognizing that the brother they betrayed is now the man they ask for help. Joseph must then decide if he should forgive his brothers or send them away.
Of course, you don’t really need to be a biblical scholar to keep up with the story, especially when you’ve got an Elvis-impersonating Pharaoh (Ryan Williams) parading around the stage.
The music is almost as eclectic as the performers as the songs switch genres from country and western (“One More Angel in Heaven”) to reggae (“Benjamin Calypso”).
Look, if you’re looking for depth or profundity then this is not the musical theater experience for you. But if you are looking to have fun, clap along and generally enjoy yourself then “Joseph” is just the show to do it.
There is something admirable about dependable, endearing entertainment, and this production is most assuredly worthy of that workmanlike praise.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through May 11. For tickets call 314-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.