Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Royal George Theatre Center. Those familiar with the Donny Osmond touring version of this confection will find this local production a lot less flashy--or, to put it positively, much more intimate. In fact its simplicity returns Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's biblical romp to its irreverent collegiate origins. There's no giant pharaoh with rolling eyes or conveyor belt delivering anachronistic props. This Joseph never soars over the audience, and his golden chariot is definitely a one-seater. But the disco-mad "Megamix" finale in Brad Mooy's glitzy, brassy staging leaves a great last impression.
Webber's pastiche of country-western, calypso, French boulevard, vaudevillian, doo-wop, and pop-rock styles positively repudiates consistency. And Ron Hutchins's vibrant choreography is likewise eclectic, putting the pile-driving 19-member ensemble through precise if hectic paces despite a cramped stage and scary downstage hole for the orchestra. As always, the framing device of invited kids (here the Chicago Children's Choir) gives focus to the storytelling--and this story needs all the focus it can get.
Brian Lane Green brings Broadway savvy to the expansive, tenor-testing title role; the audience was with him from the second note. Jennifer Hughes makes an engaging narrator, registering the same astonishment she expects from us; Lance Zitron's Elvis pharaoh brought down the pyramid; and Jeff Kuhl's clueless Potiphar could have made the sphinx laugh.