The story of Joseph and his eleven brothers begins “way way back many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began”. The UK tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is bringing joy to theatres across the country, starring Union J’s Jaymi Hensley in the titular role. This breathtakingly colourful production is vibrant and uplifting from start to finish, with something to please any theatregoer.
Following a slightly prolonged overture, the curtain rises on the narrator and two children who set the scene for an enchanting retelling of the Book of Genesis. The theme of storytelling is embedded into the show through the inclusion of around thirty smiley children in the cast. They line the on-stage staircases for the entirety of the show, providing an angelic backing track to the main vocals of each song. Likewise, the presence of Alexandra Doar as the narrator assists the show in a chapter-like fashion. Doar makes her professional debut in this production and offers a highly commendable performance.
On the topic of songs, there is a lot of music in this show, with everything but a few lines of dialogue being sung-through. The lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber for Joseph have left a legacy of iconic musical theatre numbers – from ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door’, to ‘Go, Go, Go Joseph’. Admittedly, some lesser-known songs feel a little similar in musicality, however their accompanying dances make them thematically distinct. Act two in particular offers a quite unpredictable show, featuring choreography of every style, from jazz to rock and roll.
Many technical aspects of Joseph are worth mentioning – one notable area being costume. Almost every cast member multi-roles as an additional two or three parts, yet the wardrobe department brilliantly disguise the actors, from a townsperson in one scene, to a camel in the next. That said, a few style choices are questionable: Joseph’s branded Ugg boots and the brothers’s white sports trainers feel misplaced with the show’s context.
On a separate note, the lighting design by Nick Richings is a real spectacle. On waiting for the show to begin I noted the number of lights positioned around the theatre and was intrigued to see how they would be used. The lighting does not disappoint and certainly provides a display of technicolour.
Joseph is a mightily fast-paced show, with each act running no longer than an hour. Each scene competes to be bigger and better than the last – until the finale. The ‘Joseph Megamix’ is a cheesy people-pleaser, which brings the entire audience to their feet to clap and sing along to big hits from the show – it’s the encore you didn’t ask for but can’t avoid smiling through anyway. In short, Joseph is flamboyant and fun, offering an entertaining experience to theists and non-believers alike.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is on tour until February 2020.
Featured Image: Pamela Raith Photography