Thursday, 26 November 2009

Joesph - Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
Music: Andrew Lloyd-Webber
Lyrics: Tim Rice
Director: Bill Kenwright
Reviewer: Laura Wardell

What can you say about Joseph that hasn’t already been said, even after 40 years this show is still pulling in the punters and is still the show that so many people have a soft spot for.

This lively and upbeat show takes a whistle stop tour through the popular bible story in which Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob who is given a technicolor dreamcoat by his father, much to the despair of his brothers who sell him in to slavery. Joseph has dreams which appear to predict the future and ultimately, get him out of a tricky situation. Along the way Joseph encounters a baker, a butler, seven fat cows and an Elvis inspired Pharaoh as well as running in to his brothers again after a long period of absence.

As this production began touring around the same time as Lee Mead began his West End run as Joseph following his win on the BBC programme ‘Amy Dream Will Do’, it is difficult not to compare this production to the slick polished show at the Adelphi Theatre that charmed audiences for 2 years however the wardrobe department provide a great range of costumes which vary from what the audience might expect given that the show is set in Ancient Egypt and the lighting design (Mark Howett) used during ‘Joseph’s Coat’ are quire impressive. It is also worth noting that Joseph’s chariot of gold is also perhaps not what you imagine it to be but is certainly an entertaining moment!

There is very little that can be done with Joseph in terms of reinventing it however this production has taken the comedic approach and run with it throughout the show, proving popular with the audience and even with the suited businessmen in the auditorium! It is hard no grin at the various inflatable sheep, neon signs and light up halos that adorn the stage at various points.

Everyone is familiar with the music and songs from Joseph, given that it was short musical piece written to be performed in schools and is often many people’s first introduction to musical theatre. The orchestra are faultless and it is difficult not to tap your foot along to the upbeat numbers which follow one after another.

Craig Chalmers is a very typical Joseph, he looks and sounds the part and is certainly very comfortable on stage and still seems to be enjoying the role even after this extensive tour. He excels with the comedy elements of the show however fails to capture the emotional required to pull off a convincing ‘Close Every Door’ which is one of the shows most iconic songs. Tara Bethan as the Narrator demonstrates a strong vpoice with a good range however is hampered by an awful costume which makes her look more like a magicians assistant than a leading lady. The rest of the cast certainly give a 100% and help to keep the show moving at a blistering pace although the Apache dance in Canaan Days is slightly disappointing and should be made more of a feature.

Joseph has once again proved itself to be a popular family favourite and a guilty pleasure of many a theatre goer. This current production is no doubt still riding on the coat tales of ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and has lasted longer than the most recent West End revival and long may its success continue. This show is 2 hours of entertainment and should be viewed as just that. It is one of my personal favourites despite not being the most intellectually challenging show and this production has managed to capture the essence of Joseph well – pure fun and tongue in cheek humour that will prove to popular for many years to come.

Runs until Sat 29th November
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