Music and lyrics: Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director: Laurence Connor
First produced in London’s West End in 1973, before being mounted to Broadway in 1982, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is one of the UK’s older homegrown and much-loved musicals… but this production, directed by Laurence Connor keeps the show well and truly alive for a modern-day audience by delighting in the sheer beauty of simple storytelling through epic music. Tim Rice’s lyrics move this well-known story along at a rocketing pace, complete with wit and gusto and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score embraces a plethora of musical genres: country, calypso, French cabaret and Elvis inspired rock n roll.
Unlike a lot of other key-player production companies who are currently casting untrained z-list celebrities as ticket bate *cough, cough Chicago…Gemma Collins* this Palladium production plants newly trained yet accomplished TALENT at the helm in the form of new musical theatre star Jac Yarrow, making his professional debut as leading man Joseph in this production, direct from the London Palladium- an example of musical theatre casting done right. Cast as a fresh graduate from Arts Educational school, he, unlike his Joseph predecessors, was not a star name when he opened the show but instead a new, undiscovered find. Yarrow is easily the best Joseph yet due to his fresh and modern approach – he captures the youthful energy of the character and understated heroism perfectly. His rich vocals are stellar and his rendition of Close Every Door is flawless and show-stopping.
But… It’s X Factor winner turned musical theatre veteran Alexandra Burke, as the multi-rolling narrator (and a feast of colourful cameo characters) who well and truly steals the show. Burke has led many companies on stage since her theatrical debut in The Bodyguard eight years ago, but it’s this role that allows her to truly showcase her comedic talents as an actress. She is watchable with electric stage presence throughout and again, another example of brilliant casting… if you’re going to cast a name, cast one who can do it like this! She is a true star and will long continue to shine. Her passion for this art form is evident, not only from continuing to work her socks off and deliver an outstanding performance while pregnant but through her electric interaction with the audience.
Jason Donovan as Pharaoh is welcomed by adoring fans in the audience with rapturous applause and cheers. It’s nice to see him come full circle since his loincloth-wearing Joseph days. He instantly establishes a personal rapport, joking about being out of breath after his main entrance and his rock and roll rendition of ‘Song of the King’ is a true highlight of the show.
The children’s choir addition, cast by children’s casting director Jo Hawes, are a nod to the productions roots as a ‘pop cantata’ school production and add youthful energy and playfulness making this a really fun family show – highlighting how musical theatre is an art form for all, audience and players alike, with storytelling taking precedence. Joanne M. Hunter’s choreography is vivacious and exuberant throughout, danced exquisitely by the talented ensemble as the brothers and wives – a joyous congregation in this piece.
Set design by Morghan Large provides us with a modern and simplistic canvas; simple yet effective in the first act, providing a blank yet colourful landscape serving as a crisp, clean playing space for the characters to play on and communicate the biblical tale. Yet in the second half, it becomes full-blown spectacular decadence, taking us to Egypt with ambitious grandiose.
All in all, this technicolored production is a dream to behold. Get tickets now whilst you still can. Take the kids, your gran and even your man… because this is a show that pleases all!
Running until: 2nd April 2022 and continues on UK Tour