★★★★☆ | Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
49 years after it originally debuted, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is back and is as good as ever!
Now playing at the fabulous (and best venue in London) The Palladium, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat boasts a cast that is first rate and leaves the audience wanting more. The show, based on the ‘Coat of many colours’ story of Joseph from the Bible’s Book of Genesis, begins with Joseph (Jac Yarrow) being given a colourful coat by his dad. He’s then sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and then climbs back to the top. The show is considered a camp classic and this version puts it over the top!
Sheridan Smith is very good as the narrator – she guides us through the show effortlessly, and cheekily – it looks like she is having as good a time as we are. Jason Donovan makes an all too very brief appearance as the Pharaoh (with an excellent Elvis Presley-like imitation), in his gold harness-style outfit dutifully displaying most of his upper torso and legs – Jason has still got it. Yarrow, making his West End debut, is absolute perfection as the main character Joseph. Currently training at the Arts Educational School, Yarrow is the strongest voice in the show, and his rendition of ‘Close Every Door’ right before the end of the first half literally brings down the house. It’s a stunning West End debut by someone so young and very talented (he is only 21). And Donovan, who played Joseph in a 1991 version (also at the Palladium, has come full circle and weathered it very very well.
The show does not rely on razzle-dazzle sets and special effects – it’s all about the actors and talent on stage – and they more than deliver. The sets are effortlessly perfect, and the cast of children, most of them playing adult characters (a few with fake beards) make the show charming and enduring. But the show, on the technical side on the night I saw it, had sound problems. The audience could not quite understand Donovans’ lyrics, while, in a show that is mostly sung and not spoken, makes a big impact on the storytelling for those of us seeing it for the first time. But’s it a minor quibble – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (written by a very young Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice) is lively and fun and should continue to bring this to audiences to come, probably for the next 49 years.
Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat plays at The Palladium until September 2019, book tickets here
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.
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