The Epiphany Players Drama Ministry of Epiphany Lutheran Church ushers in Dayton’s 2013-14 theater season with a terrifically joyous, appealingly designed production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1968 biblical musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” playfully adapted from the Book of Genesis.
Director/choreographer Megan Wean sharply fashions one of the most consistently infectious versions of “Joseph” this town has seen. This breezy presentation, fueled by enjoyably energetic routines, produces feel-good vibes from the giddy opening that finds the adorable Children’s Chorus enticed by the Bible’s enchanting allure to the ensemble’s enthusiastic delivery of the pop-friendly “Joseph Megamix” finale. Due to the musical’s engaging storytelling foundation, Wean’s particularly inspired decision to stage the show in-the-round delightfully establishes a warm sense of unity and connection that serves the comical, touching and sung-through material very well. Scenic designer Bruce Brown also deserves credit for creating a spacious set that wonderfully heightens the action thanks to a platform which occasionally rises at center stage to great, spine-tingling effect.
Desmond Thomas, one of last season’s standouts as Seymour in Playhouse South’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” supplies pleasant sensitivity and warmth as the meek, misunderstood Joseph, who is beloved by his father Jacob (an admirable Brian Hoff) and sold into slavery by his 11 jealous brothers. Joseph is an oddly introverted character, but Thomas effectively conveys the determination, optimism and prophetic aptitude brewing within that briefly turns vindictive when he is reunited with his brothers. Musically, Thomas offers splendid renditions of “Any Dream Will Do” and the heartbreaking gem “Close Every Door.”
First-rate vocalists Kandis Wean and Erin Ulman expertly split the duties of Narrator. Nicely clothed in white and supporting Thomas with attentiveness and grace, Wean and Ulman have a mutual respect in the spotlight. The expressive Wean is at her lyric-driven best for “Journey to Egypt/Potiphar” and firmly begins Act 2 with an inviting “Pharaoh’s Story.” Ulman, radiant as ever, shines in “Joseph’s Coat” (featuring Timothy A. Guth’s striking lighting design) and the pep rally-tinged “Go, Go, Go Joseph.”
Brett Greenwood (Reuben), Ralph Bordner (Simeon), Chace Beard (Levi), Justin Mathews (Judah), Joshua Huges (Dan), Andrew Beers (Naphthali), Charlie Arthur (Gad), Jeffrey Mack (Asher), Bryan Burckle (Isaachar), Timothy Seiler (Zebulon), and Justin Crichfield (Benjamin) are a humorous and cohesive unit as the brothers. Greenwood adopts an amusing twang for the country-flavored “One More Angel in Heaven.” Arthur also scores as the bespectacled and quirky Potiphar. Hughes, with melodramatic flair, leads an absolutely superb, nearly showstopping rendition of “Those Canaan Days.” Burckle lets loose with gleeful abandon for “Benjamin Calypso.” The charismatic Brandon Crichfield suavely embodies the Elvis-esque Pharaoh throughout the rock and roll-driven “Song of the King.”
Maria Kleuber and Lori Watamaniuk’s colorful costumes, Jason Hamen and Adrienne Niess’ cute assortment of props, and musical director David E. Brush’s steady onstage band are additional pluses within this highly entertaining showcase.
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” continues through July 21 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 6430 Far Hills Ave., Centerville. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Act One: 35 minutes; Act Two: 45 minutes. Jeffrey Mack, memorably seen as Cain in Epiphany’s 2009 production of “Children of Eden,” will particularly portray Joseph at the Friday and Saturday performances. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children. For tickets or more information, call (937) 433-1449 ext. 105 or visit www.epiphanydayton.org