The Olney Theatre's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is a lively mod musical with good-natured, iconoclastic humor, inventive staging, pleasant songs and voices, and a cast of engaging young people with infectious verve and enthusiasm.
And it's great fun - both for the cast and the audience.
"Joseph," which is an earlier collaboration of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the same team that gave us "Jesus Christ, Superstar," is an updated musical version of the Biblical tale of Joseph and his jealous brothers, who sold him into capvtivity in Egypt.
In the Rice-Webber Revised Version of Genesis, the 11 wicked brothers - identified by Roman Numerals on their backs like a Naples football team - are turned into a bare-legged male chorus line.
What Rice and Webber did was string together a series of saucy musical satires on the thread of the Joseph story. When the brothers come to tell Jacob that his favorite, Joseph, had been killed, and show him the bloodied multi-colored coat, the scene is transformed into a country-western ballad, "One More Angel in Heaven," sung by Eric Pierpont with a pronounced nasal twang.
Later there is a Parisian scene with a pair of adagio dancers (Denise Correa and Pierpont), which ends with the girl giving her muscular partner a karate chop and dragging him off the stage.
And the Egyptian pharaoh turns into a hip-gyrating Elvis Presley in an uproariously funny parody by Blaise Corrigan.
This is the fourth go-round for "Joseph" for Catholic University's Hartke Theater and Olney. After the first sucess at Hartke, "Joseph" opened and closed at Onley last summer and is back again with the cast of musicians largely intact.
Mark Heckler is still a wide-eyed innocent as Joseph, and Ayl Mack is especially fine as the singing narrator. Kevin J. McCarthy and his band keep the production moving at a sprightly pace.
"Joseph" ends with the performers in the aisle and the audience joining in the clapping on beat, which is all right, I suppose, if you like participatory theater.
"Joseph" is on stage at Olney through May 27.