Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Tim Rice
Director: Laurence Connor.
Originally written as a 20-minute performance for Colet Court School in 1967, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been enjoyed by millions of theatregoers worldwide. With this fresh and vibrant production directed by Laurence Connor, it’s almost guaranteed that a whole new generation will continue to enjoy the delights of this feel-good family musical!
Connor has helmed new revivals of many long-running musicals including the “new productions” of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera – so it is no surprise that his re-working of Joseph is just as much a success, and arguably like the other revivals could be described as the definitive production.
His new take on the production firmly plants children at the heart of the musical, a distinctive nod to the origins of the musical. Unlike other productions the children are not shoe-horned extras but are woven throughout, playing with charm and confidence in some of the supporting roles such as the younger brothers, the Cook, the Butler and Potiphar – A shame that we are unable to individually name the children (who deserve the review notices as much as their adult co-workers) as no information in either the programme or outside the auditorium lets us know who is playing who.
In the titular role of Joseph, relative newcomer Jac Yarrow, who landed the part pre-covid straight from drama school brings a fresh perspective to the role. He is charming, likeable and brings just the right amount of dreamer arrogance to his portrayal. His vocals are crisp and clean and his rendition of ‘Close Every Door’ is sublime.
Joining him are two performers who have a history with the production. Having made his West End debut in the show as a fresh-faced performer straight from Neighbours and pop stardom Jason Donovan, now re-joins the cast 30 years later as Pharaoh. Donovan clearly still knows how to whip the audience into a frenzy and it’s evident he is enjoying every moment of his on-stage time.
Reuniting with Donovan is original Palladium narrator Linzi Hately reprising her role – and it must be said that it is Hately who totally steals the show, playing multiple cameo roles throughout – here is a performer that isn’t afraid to have fun on stage and she is adamant she will take you along for the ride too. It’s that element of fun and play that really makes this production so enjoyable, its energetic, fast-paced and doesn’t take itself seriously.
Morgan Large’s adaptable set design feels like the illustrations of the school’s version of the NIV Bible has come to life on stage – it’s bright, it’s colourful and has an element of sophisticated simplicity to it. His Egypt section is show-stealing! When lit by Ben Cracknell’s stunning lighting design magic really does happen. Likewise, Joann M. Hunter’s cheeky choreography adds another layer to proceedings.
It’s a shame that with everything ticking all the right boxes, the sound balance of the show is so loud… In over 20 years of reviewing, one has never had to hold hands over ears, to dull the sound. I hope that this isn’t a common occurrence for the show and it really does hinder the amount of enjoyment you can get while watching the production.
Sound issues aside – this is a delightful and colorful musical delight, that makes watching the musical feel new again. The cast (adults and children alike) give so much energy and commitment that it’s hard not to be swept away in the storytelling.
Director Laurence Connor does it again and we are excited about what musicals he can bring his modern touch too next!
Runs until Sat 11 June 2022 and continues on UK tour