Thirteen children huddle on the stage floor, their eyes upturned to the narrator as she sings, setting the story in motion.
Soon, the large cast of 25 adults sweeps onto the set at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport.
The rehearsal for the fast-moving musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is neatly coordinated, movements unfolding in tight quarters.
The production, based on the biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors, pulls back the curtain on jealousy and deceit, rolls out humor and wisdom, and mulls forgiveness.
It opens for a 12-show run this Friday, with the last performance on Sunday, June 30.
At least several cast members and the director have the “Dreamcoat” show in their past and bring experience with Tim Rice’s lyrics and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music to their roles and directions.
The narrator, played by Carol Smolinsky, of Salem, was in the musical twice as a teen, once as the narrator.
But the most memorable of her “Dreamcoat” experiences was at 10 years old, playing in the children’s choir in the Boston leg of the national tour starring Donny Osmond.
In one show, she stumbled and would have fallen but for Osmond’s saving grasp. He reached out and steadied her.
Smolinsky, a soprano, said that lots of people have connections to the musical. But that only partially accounts for its deep and wide appeal.
“It has a strong message: Be true to yourself, and give others second chances,” she said.
Director John Budzyna, of Newburyport, first saw the musical performed on Broadway. He was an early teen, a self-described “budding musical theater geek.”
He and his sister waited by the stage door for actor autographs after the performance.
Autographs aside, his “Dreamcoat” infatuation remains.
Budzyna has incorporated some of the same tongue-in-cheek bits from the original production.
“They worked then, and they work now,” he said.
Comedy tempers the serious business of sibling rivalry. After all, at one point, Joseph’s big band of brothers wants him dead.
The musical’s themes of jealousy and redemption are timeless and universal.
Patrick Berry, 22, of Danvers, who just graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a voice performance degree, plays the lead, Joseph.
Berry said that he marvels at and enjoys playing a character able to reel in angry instincts for revenge.
The coat he wears is pretty amazing, too.
Custom-made for the production by costume designer Rebecca Stewart, it’s modeled after the coat Osmond donned.
Joseph and his coat are a memorable pair, but the Firehouse cast also boasts a husband-and-wife team.
Hannah Lynn Mell and David Draper, from Rowley, have both performed in the musical before.
Draper played Joseph; Mell, the narrator.
Mell, in the Firehouse production’s ensemble — playing a wife — especially looks forward to singing a solo in “One More Angel in Heaven.”
One of Joseph’s brothers, Gad, lifts the wife on his shoulders for the song. Gad is played by her real-life husband.
“It’s the dream I never knew I always had,” Mell said.
Budzyna said that the production’s music is upbeat and inclusive, shifting styles from country to calypso, rockabilly to Egyptian.
The large cast, intimate setting and timeless story bring electricity to the production.
The narrator, Smolinsky — who still has the tour jacket from her “Dreamcoat” youth — said that the show is going to be a blast.
“It is going to be loud and fun and has a very popular message,” she said.
If you go
What: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
When: June 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m.; June 15, 16, 23 and 30 at 3 p.m.; and June 20 and 27 at 7 p.m.
Where: Firehouse Center for the Arts, Market Square, Newburyport
How much: $30
More information: 978-462-7336 or www.firehouse.org