Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber

Theatre Royal, Newcastle, & touring

(2008)

Review by V Mitchell

With the success of BBC1's reality series Any Dream Will Do, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat is still riding high in the West End starring the winner of the show, Lee Mead. Now, Bill Kenwright has taken the show on tour across the country, opening last night at the Newcastle Theatre Royal to a large audience.

For those who don't know (where have you been?), Joseph, written by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a musical retelling the biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and his famous multi-coloured coat. When Joseph is sold to the Ishmaelites by his jealous brothers, he refuses to resign himself to death and uses his wonderful gift of dream interpretation to become second in command to the Pharaoh of all of Egypt.

Featuring an array of famous songs such as 'Close every door', 'Any dream will do' and 'One more angel in heaven', Joseph has a cast of over fifty (with over half being children) and features not only one reality television star, but three! Finalist Craig Chalmers takes on the role of Joseph with his once-competitor, Antony Hansen, playing Pharaoh, while Tara Bethan, a hopeful from I'd Do Anything plays the Narrator.

Both Chalmers and Bethan present pitch-perfect performances though Chalmers' acting does leave a little to be desired, most notable in his rendition of 'Close every door'. On the flip-side, Hansen provides a strong characterisation of the Pharaoh, who is modelled on the King himself, Elvis. However he is on the cusp of losing the fight vocally, as is he far from intelligible leaving the audience to talk amongst themselves at some points.

The rest of the cast, including the eleven brothers (dancing with great energy) provide a grand support for the three 'names' of the show, with stand-out performances from Adebayo Bolaji (Issachar) and Eve Merchant as the promiscuous Mrs Potiphar. The children sitting patiently on stage throughout the show consist of 35 pupils from the Stagecoach Theatre Arts Schools in Sunderland and Newcastle and are undoubtedly a highlight of the show, merging their beautiful voices together to create some spine-tingling harmonies.

The brilliant score, dazzling set design and flamboyant costuming makes this touring production of Joseph a great opportunity for all fans of the hit-show Any Dream Will Do and musical fans alike. The show certainly proved to be a huge hit on its first night with many of the audience giving a standing ovation and runs until Saturday, 13th September before heading to the next venue, The New Theatre, Wimbledon.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" runs until 13 September 2008
Evenings: Mon - Thu 7.30pm, Fri 8.30pm, Sat 8pm
Matinees: Tue - Thu 1pm, Fri 5.30pm, Sat 2pm & 5pm

Philip Seager reviewed this production in Sheffield