Cast has good time with third-rate ‘Joseph’

Obviously, musical theater demands a lot of hard work. What’s amazing about Signature Productions’ “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is that none of it shows. The cast seems to be having too good a time. How could sweat be involved in something so seemingly effortless?

Directors Leslie Fotheringham and Steve Huntsman understand the “glamour” of musical comedy — which is the opposite of hard work. This version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s campy Bible tale, about the adventures of a young Egyptian sold into slavery by his brothers, is infused with a blissful sense of play.

The directors punch up the script’s gimmick of a story being told to children by a narrator. They begin and end with a framed real-life “photo” of the cast (breathtakingly lit by Jay Ledane).

As the score segues into everything from calypso to country, and the costumes (rented from the Fullerton Civic Light Opera) bounce into different time periods, we get the feeling the narrator is shaping a parable any which way to maintain the children’s interest. This forestalls our eventual realization that the show is third-rate bubble-gum nonsense. But the directors come as close to making this tepid script as effective as may be humanly possible.

They are helped considerably by Marko Westwood’s playful and varied choreography. And while we might bemoan Signature’s decision to rent costumes — thereby depriving local designers an opportunity to create them — the loud-colored threads are a major source of additional fun.

We’re blown away by singers in minor roles as often as we are the leads. Brandalee Bluth, as part of a trio observing the action, contributes great authority and amusing cynicism. Courtney Broadbent offers a hilarious exaggeration of an evil temptress. And Evan Lift as the Pharaoh somehow manages to pump blood into the overexposed King one more time, with equal parts buffoonery, dazzle and solid vocalizing.

As Joseph, Brandon Albright is a charismatic, professional-level singer. He knows how to sell a song, but you don’t always believe his numbers are the result of specific character needs.

Kelly Albright is gifted with a powerful belt, but here sounds strained, as if she were pushing the upper regions of her voice. She also has a generic smile that doesn’t seem to spring from onstage action.

But my guess is, it’d be pretty tough to leave the theater unhappy. Make sure you don’t leave before the bows. This curtain call may be the most infectiously jubilant one you’ll encounter on a local stage.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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