Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director: Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Josephine Jones
In a truly spectacular performance, Ian ‘H’ Watkins returns to play the main character of Joseph once more in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, now the longest running musical of all time.
In this traditional biblical tale the narrator, played by Jennifer Potts, tells the story of how Joseph’s eleven brothers hate him for being the favourite son. In an act of jealousy they sell Joseph as a slave and cover his coat in blood so their father Jacob, played by Henry Metcalfe, believes he is dead. Joseph is taken to Egypt where he becomes a slave and ends up in prison where people start coming to him to decipher their dreams. Soon the Pharaoh, played by Luke Jasztal, hears of this and comes to Joseph with a dream. Joseph says Egypt will have seven years of bumper crop followed by seven years of drought. The Pharaoh plans for this and Egypt survives. Joseph becomes the Pharaoh’s number two man and when his brother’s come from Canaan in search of food they don’t recognise him. Joseph realises his brother’s are now trustworthy men and embraces them.
The songs are performed with real zeal and energy making the whole audience clap along. A stand out song is definitely Close Every Door performed by Watkins where he proves he is a truly talented singer, drawing the audience in with the emotion of his voice.
Several different musical styles are included from musical theatre to country to Elvis styled songs by the Pharaoh, meaning there is truly something for everybody. This is an especially distinct performance as it has a welsh twist to it with the lead being Watkins who is originally from the Rhondda valley, backed by a choir of sixty children from the Mark Jermin Stage School’s based in Cardiff, Penarth and Pontypridd. Their voices against those of the adults in the show offer an innocence in places, along with good harmonies.
One character who must be mentioned is the Pharaoh, interpreted in this production as Elvis he brings not only comedy but in some ways a complete randomness that keeps the audience laughing along.
Towards the end of the performance it does edge slightly towards pantomime with the brothers coming out into crowd and there is a certain amount of audience participation, but this isn’t annoying. It is a show for the whole family and you can’t help but be drawn into the energy of it, clapping and singing along to the songs that you know by the end.
This production certainly isn’t a straightforward interpretation of the classic biblical tale, however that is what makes it so enjoyable. The blasts of colour, changes in musical styles, energetic dance routines and quick set changes are sure to keep people of all ages interested.