Scott Marks 4:19 p.m., June 19
The title tips the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical's hand. Combine the biblical tale of Joseph and his brothers with modern anachronisms: parodies of musical styles, from country and western to disco; many-colored costumes from ancient Egypt to today, and characters with split personalities — like the Pharaoh, who looks and sings like Elvis Presley.
This isn't Thomas Mann's seven-volume epic about a favored son rejected by 11 jealous brothers; it's Sunday School meets MTV.
The extravaganza had humble beginnings. Webber was 23 — and lyricist Tim Rice, 19 — when he wrote a brief "pop cantata" in 1968. Encouraged by the success of Jesus Christ Superstar in 1970, Joseph's score and cast size swelled and spread. The cantata became a gaudy potpourri.
At the Lyceum, San Diego Musical Theatre has over 40 people onstage and — thanks to Ron Kellum's savvy direction and Johnny Dean Harvey and Chad Everett Allen's excellent choreography — they're all on the same page.
That's 26 performers, 18 teenage choir members who hand dance and comment like a chorus, and a 15-piece band led by local wiz Don LeMaster. Standouts include: Eric Kunze (Joseph), Bethany Slomka (who played Tracy Turnblad in the Rep's Hairspray, as the narrator), John Adamson's Elvis, Ed Hollingsworth's long-suffering Jacob, Jimmy Keith Latimer, Jr's rendition of "Benjamin's Calypso," and Zachary Scot Wolfe's languid Asher, doing a Jaques Brel cameo in "Those Canaan Days."
Although the story often plays second fiddle to the pizazz, and the miking had some fairly consistent glitches when I saw the show, the spectacle, the spunk, and rich choral voices make for an always entertaining evening.
Photo credit: Ken Jacques