Back in the mists of time – well 1968 – before Evita and before Jesus Christ Superstar, a young and ambitious pair of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote and presented a little musical show. Since then, the show has become a firm favourite, with audiences world-wide and especially with Schools and amateur groups with over 20,000 of them staging productions. The show is, of course Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I caught the latest touring production during its visit to the New Wimbledon Theatre.
Now, according to the narrator (Alexandra Doar), way, way back many centuries ago, not long after the bible began, and old man by the name of Jacob (Henry Metcalfe) had a large family of wives and sons. In fact, he had 12 sons – Reuben (Paul Brangan), Simeon (Robert Bardsley), Levi (Tom Bainbridge), Naphtali (Alec Porter), Issachar (Alfie Parker), Asher (Henry Lawes), Dan (Bradley Judge), Zebulun (Lovonne Zeus Richards), Gad (Nathan Zach Johnson), Benjamin (George Knapper), Judah (Tyler Ephraim) and Joseph (Mark McMullan).
Unfortunately, whilst Jacob may have been wise in many ways, he made the big mistake of having a favourite amongst his children. That child was his youngest, Joseph, and Jacob made a real fuss over him, which rather antagonised his brothers. The final straw occurred when Jacob designed a wonderful multi-coloured coat for Joseph, who strutted about a bit in it. Joseph also annoyed his siblings because he talked about the various dreams he had in which he seemed to be lording it over the rest of the family. The brothers finally decide they have had enough and its time for Joseph to go. However, whilst getting rid of Joseph proves easy for the devious brothers, things don’t turn out exactly as they hoped, and Joseph not only survives his brother’s treatment but ends up having a fabulous adventure as he goes through his life separated from the father that loves him.
I’ve seen quite a few versions of Joseph over the years – both amateur and professional – and, for me there are three elements that have to be perfect for the show to work. The first is the Narrator. They set the tone and pace of the show and, despite the actor playing Joseph usually getting top billing, the Narrator carries a lot of the show on their shoulders. Alexandra Doar was just right in the role. From the start as she walked onto the stage with a sprog in each hand, Alexandra put on a brilliant performance. He second test is the song ‘Close Every Door to Me’. Basically, for this I need to be distracted from the loin cloth clad young man and listening to the words with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye feeling the utter despair in Joseph’s life at that point. Mark McMullan really delivered on my wishes for the song, and with every other. Finally, the Pharaoh has to be ancient Elvis personified and boy, did Henry Laws fill the bill. For an hour or so, the King of Rock and Roll was alive and well and camping it up in ancient Egypt. So, three tests passed with flying colours for me, but what about someone that hadn’t seen the show before?
Well, my friend Lynne loved every moment of the show. From – to my mind rather overlong overture – right through the ‘Joseph Megamix’ at the end, Lynne had a fabulous time and going by the reaction of the rest of the audience at the end, so did everyone else.
Bill Kenwright really knows how to put on a show that gets the audience fired up, and Joseph certainly does that. The production is slick, professional and thoroughly enjoyable. Sean Cavanagh’s Set and Costumes look fantastic and, work well to not only provide a place for the Joseph Choir to sit but also make a multi-level arena for Joseph, his family and everyone else to work in. And, the various actors certainly worked hard, delivering the various musical styles that the show calls for and some pretty intense dancing using Henry Metcalfe’s original choreography supplemented with new moves from Gary Lloyd.
I know there is some snobbery around Lloyd Webber’s musicals but Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a wonderful example of something that is both crowd pleasing and very entertaining. In the hands of this multi-talented team of cast and creatives, the show is a colourful, enjoyable and downright awesome way to blow away the winter blues and leave every member of the family with a big smile on their face.
Review by Terry Eastham
Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colours, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the first of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals to be performed publicly. Seen by an estimated 26 million people, and counting, Joseph continues to enthral audiences around the world.
Full of life and colour, the magical musical features the unforgettable and timeless songs including Go, Go, Go Joseph, Any Dream Will Do, Jacob and Sons and Close Every Door To Me.
Britain’s Got Talent finalist, Mark McMullan, dons the Technicolor Dreamcoat in his first major musical role in Bill Kenwright’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-loved family favourite, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is directed and produced by Bill Kenwright, with original choreography by Henry Metcalfe, additional new choreography by Gary Lloyd, set designs by Sean Cavanagh, sound design by Dan Samson and lighting by Nick Richings.
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
New Wimbledon Theatre
Tue 21 – Sat 25 Jan 2020
Buy Tickets for New Wimbledon Theatre
18th – 22nd February 2020
Book Tickets for Sunderland Empire