If you love “American Idol” and bare male chests, then this current packaging of the reliable theatrical warhorse Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will no doubt amaze and delight you.
After all, it stars two Idol alums, the newlywed couple Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, the latter of whom parades around in the buff from his waist up, Putin-style, when he’s not wearing the aforementioned robe.
It’s all in service of this glitzy and slickly produced production that tells the biblical story of Joseph, his 11 brothers and Joe’s tale of banishment and redemption. That is, if you can follow the story amid all the spinning visual effects, non-stop dance routines and Young’s palpitating pecs.
In short, the father gives his favorite son Joe this snazzy coat and his bro’s are pissed. So after trying to kill Joe, they sell him into slavery in Egypt. While there and languishing in prison, Joseph learns he has skills at interpreting dreams and pretty soon he’s buds with the Pharaoh (a fair-to-middling Elvis impression by Ryan Williams).
Things turn bad back at the homestead and the brothers wind up appealing for help to the high-ranking Joseph, whom they don’t recognize. But Joseph plays a trick on them and sees they’ve changed their stripes. So Joseph shows mercy to his brothers by pardoning them and Ace shows mercy to the women in the audience by donning his coat again and covering up his rippling six-pack.
Those are the bare bones of the story but, if you’ve never seen the show before (is such a thing possible?), you’d better study the synopsis. Because once this cacophonous light show starts rolling, plotlines are left in the dust.
On second thought, the story matters little in this kind of show, where TV-familiar celebs are visiting the hinterlands and bestowing their talents. This iteration of the 40-year-old musical Joseph is just a vehicle for star turns, a theatrical version of TV’s The Love Boat, where B and C (and sometimes D) list actors could find a bit more glory.
DeGarmo and Young aren’t nearly that washed up. But having recently come from a “Samson & Delilah” musical gig, they may want to resist getting packaged this way too many times in the future.
This is the first stop on the Joseph tour, and the company seems to be in full stride. And although neither DeGarmo nor Young have brilliant Broadway-style voices (hers a bit thin and reedy, his a tad flat), they perform the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice score with energy.
But once the curtain call hits, interwoven with a megamix of songs you just heard, you may be hoping not to encounter another Joseph for an eon or so.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Through March 16 at PlayhouseSquare, 1516 Euclid Avenue, 216-241-6000.