Laurel Mill Playhouse leaps into spring with a sparkling rendition of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” a musical so popular that it’s been performed more than 20,000 times since beginning as a short pop cantata at a London school in the late 1960s.
With music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice, the forerunner of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (which the duo also wrote) — after being modified and expanded — has been reprised for more than 50 years.
Its first full soundtrack was recorded a year after the show opened in London’s West End in 1973; “Joseph” opened on Broadway in Manhattan in 1982, a 1999 movie starred Donny Osmond, and the musical toured in the United Kingdom just two years ago.
Produced and directed here by Maureen Rogers and Michael Hartsfield, respectively, with musical direction by Mimi Kuhn McGinniss and choreography by Kristin Rigsby, “Joseph” adapts easily to the Playhouse stage.
Hartsfield’s lights rise on an open set as his cast (accompanied by McGinnis on backstage piano) don wonderful biblically-inspired costumes designed by Marge McGugan over street clothes in full view of the audience.
Kicking off with “Prologue,” Tracy Davidson (who has a background in opera and musical theater ) as the Narrator sets a very high bar with crystal clear vocals that shine to play’s end.
Enter handsome Rew Garner (whose singing and acting are also very good) as Joseph wearing a robe incongruently stenciled with “Dad Likes Me Best,” and a humorous take on the biblical story of Israel’s favorite son takes off in a lighthearted romp that parodies a variety of musical styles and dance.
Rigsby’s choreography never misses a step keeping up with and matching the numbers inspired by French ballads, country hillbilly, Elvis Presley, the Charleston, Calypso, jazz and 1950s rock and roll that are exaggerated for comic effect.
And the high energy and passion of a dulcet cast — Davidson (as Narrator), Garner (Joseph), Kel McClanahan (Joseph’s father, Jacob and Potiphar), Sean Miller (brother Reuben), Ronan O’Toole (brother Simeon), Jacob Hale (brother Napthali), Kaitlyn Bancroft (brother Dan), Melissa Kleinberger (brother Issachar), Brandon Seehoffer (brother Levi), Emma Russell-Duda (brother Zebulun), Shawn Fournier (brother Gad), Kory Tvedt (brother Judah), Rebekah Pase (brother Benjamin), Lori Kahn (Mrs. Potiphar, Pharaoh (Patrick Pase) Janylza Ortiz (Butler), Carly Brukiewa (Baker) — and of the ensemble — Samantha Roberts, Ortiz, Carly Brukiewa, Terri Laurino, Kelly Morgan-Lallo and Delaney McGinnis — never falter.
Early in Act 1, the upbeat “Any Dream Will Do” sets the theme for Joseph’s story.
Joseph of Canaan (Garner) is a young man whose dreams foretell the future. His father, Jacob (McClanahan), favors Joseph above his 11 brothers and gifts him with a fine multicolored coat. When, swaggering like a peacock, Joseph foretells that he is destined to rule his jealous brothers; they strip him of his coat and sell him to Ishmaelites in “Poor, Poor Joseph.”
While enslaved in Egypt, Joseph’s gift allows him to rise to a high position in the house of his Potiphar (McClanahan). But Mrs. Potiphar (Kahn) makes advances and although Joseph spurns her, Potiphar jumps to the wrong conclusion and throws Joseph in prison.
“Close Every Door” by Joseph and the ensemble lament his imprisonment; but it is here that Joseph interprets the dreams of two other prisoners, leading to his way out of the darkness. Act 1 ends with the number “Go, Go, Go Joseph” encouraging Joseph to follow his dreams.
In Act 2, Joseph is freed and becomes a powerful advisor to Egypt’s Pharaoh (Pase) after foretelling and saving Egypt from a famine. When his brothers consequently come begging for food (“Grovel, Grovel”), they are unaware that they are bowing to Joseph.
The story flies to a happy ending as Joseph reunites with Jacob, who believed him dead, in “Jacob in Egypt.” And Joseph reclaims his multi-colored coat for the lovely finale of “Any Dream Will Do.”
McGinnis — accompanied in the orchestra by Danny Santiago (guitar, banjo, base, accordion) and Mark Dawson (percussion) — leads the cast through more than two dozen pleasing musical numbers with standout vocal performances by leads Davidson and Garner.
Among the many fine performances by other cast members, Pase is hysterical in the Elvis-inspired “Song of the King,” as is Miller in the twangy “One More Angel in Heaven.”
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” continues through Sunday, May 20, Laurel Mill Playhouse, 508 Main St., with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m., and matinee performances May 13 and 20, at 2 p.m. General admission is $22. Students 18 and under and seniors 65 and over pay $17. Buy tickets online at laurelmillplayhouse.org.