Andrew Lloyd Webber's well-known score for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" doesn't stand a chance of getting lodged in your head during the musical's current eight-show stay at the Warner Theatre. It's not because the orchestra is limp or the singers are weak or the sound system is bad; none of that is true in this surprisingly high-quality touring production.
Rather, it's because the most persistent brain noise you'll likely experience is this thought: Man, Joseph is ripped! At nearly 44, Patrick Cassidy is a bit long in the tooth to be playing the title character, who's supposed to be the second-youngest son in a family of 12 strapping brothers. His torso, however, looks to be about 19 -- and because Cassidy spends most of the show shirtless, that alone makes this a pretty striking production. (And it at least takes your attention off his awful, Colin Farrell-as-Alexander blond hair.) This is "Joseph's" latest incarnation, retooled by Webber in the early '90s to impress the modern theatergoer. In other words, it's splashier and more manic than the version Sir Andrew created with lyricist, frequent collaborator and fellow knight Tim Rice in 1968. The story remains the same:
Based on a Bible tale, the musical is a fluffy, family-friendly telling of the story of Jacob (Nicholas F. Saverine), patriarch of Israel, and the enslaving of favorite son Joseph by his jealous brothers after his father bestows on him a coat of many colors. Joseph, a prescient dreamer, wins the favor of the Elvis-like Egyptian pharaoh (Todd Dubail) by interpreting the king's dreams, and is eventually reunited with his family.
Besides his physique, there's nothing remarkable about Cassidy's performance, though it serves the production well enough. Cassidy (son of Shirley Jones, brother and half brother of Shaun and David, respectively), whose most recent Broadway appearance was an eight-month stint in "42nd Street," is matched in meager star power by former "American Idol" contestant Amy Adams, who plays the narrator.
Whereas Cassidy comes off as beefcake, Adams is downright matronly despite the punky red streaks in her hair. She moves stiffly -- often with a weird smile plastered on her face -- and is outfitted in frumpy tops that look cut from spangly curtains. Like her co-star, though, Adams shows off a strong voice in her theatrical debut, perfectly suited for Webber's big end notes.
As many already know, an Elvis impersonator ruling Egypt isn't the only bizarre touch in "Joseph." Webber's compositions wander in style from country-western ("One More Angel in Heaven") to French chanson ("Those Canaan Days") to disco ("Go, Go, Go Joseph"), all dominated by his easy rhymes and singsong melodies. The impressively acrobatic choreography and costumes are often just as random, with swing dancing accompanying a hoedown.
The dancers' outfits include harem wench and cheerleader. Camera phones and laptops are winking updates, going along with James Fouchard's Vegas-y pyramids.
It all amounts to more spectacle than story, with plot clarity sometimes being sacrificed for a kickin' dance number.
Wrapping everything up is the "Joseph Megamix," a full-cast reprise of the score set to a thumping techno beat and complete with smoke machines and flashing lights. What Rice may think of the garish new curtain call is up for speculation, but audiences will likely go home happy.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, lyrics by Tim Rice; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Dallett Norris. Musical director, Kep Kaeppeler; choreography, Arlene Phillips; sound, Duncan Robert Edwards; set, James Fouchard; lighting, Rick Belzer. Approximately one hour 50 minutes. Through Oct. 23 at Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-397-7328 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.