Lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first musical collaboration Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been a staple of school productions and was revived at the London Palladium in a 1991. The 1991 restaged and expanded production starred Jason Donovan, then at the height of his pop star fame, in the title role. Now the show is back at the same address and in a luxury piece of casting Jason Donovan is back too – but this time in the cameo role of Pharaoh! Also returning on the night I saw the show was the original Narrator from the 1991 version Linzi Hateley, (she performs on select dates, Alexandra Burke shares the role). This was a real treat for me as I had grown up playing the Joseph cassette non-stop and to hear Linzi singing those opening lines “Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do” was spine tingling and I was not the only one excited to see her as the full capacity audience cheered for a good 10 minutes when she appeared!
With very little dialogue and back-to-back songs, family-friendly storyline and catchy music, it’s clear to see why there have been so many productions around the world of this biblical story. The plot is simple; Joseph is his father’s favourite son; he gets shunned by his brothers who sell him to the Ishmaelites and they tell their father Jacob he was killed. Joseph’s tale after his brother’s betrayal sees him as a slave with the Egyptian business tycoon; Potiphar, this does not end well as he is imprisoned. In jail interpreting other’s dreams, he ends up before the Pharaoh and after Joseph helps the country, he’s set free and made second in command which helps him teach his brothers a lesson.
Jac Yarrow was born for the role of Joseph, he oozes class and charm from the moment he steps into the iconic coat. He is a wonderfully authoritative yet endearing Joseph, his vocals are like caramel, his solo of “Close Every Door” is beautiful and he brings a new energy to the role of Joseph. His famous coat is beautifully designed and is inspired by traditional Palestinian embroidery and patterns from Turkish and Moroccan clothing.
A fun element is the use of Jason Donovan as the Pharaoh, although you have to wait till the second act to see the original Joseph in his prime, he has lost none of his energy and fits the role perfectly bringing the house down as an Elvis style King of Egypt complete with Las Vegas style sign! The wait for “Song of the king” is worth the anticipation with Jason selling the part, you can’t help but fall in love with him which will make you all shook up! The staging is extravagant and you must take the time to look around the set while this song is being sung for the nuances that are shown.
Linzi Hateley has lots to do in this version with multiple roles including playing Jacob the father of Joseph, jailer and Mrs Potiphar, she brings a unique feel to each role adding perfect comedy timing with little touches and hilarious accents! Her Jacob is not to be missed with stick on beard! Having played the role over 30 years ago Linzi still sparkles and shines bringing down the house with her powerful vocals and I wish I had as much energy as her! Linizi is hardly off the stage as the Narrator and the stamina this must take is amazing and glorious to witness.
The rest of the cast are highly zestful playing the brothers and wife’s and other roles, they all bring lots of laughs and joy with numbers such as “Those Canaan days” and “One more angel in heaven”. They were all incredible in their given roles and looked like they were having a blast just like the audience was! The children who usually sing the oohs and aahs of “Any dream will do” were magnificently used in various roles such as Potiphar and the fellow cell mates of Joseph. This was a really inspirational use of the children and once again they looked like they were enjoying every minute of it.
On the night I saw the show, the whole of the London Palladium stood before the finishing line of the finale song to cheer and clap. The crowd were filled with the joy of seeing live theatre again in a packed auditorium, we all wanted more! A great thing about Joseph is that, after the happy ending, you get to watch the whole show again during a seven-minute epic encore as the cast sings snippets of every song again, rapid-fire in the iconic “Megamix”.
Director Laurence Connor has a kaleidoscope of dazzling colours to work with and choreography by JoAnn M Hunter is non-stop, I never knew how energetic the show was! There is a detailed stage design by Morgan Large and beautiful costumes including the famous coat. Perfectly timed lighting effects by Ben Cracknell elevate the production to advanced heights. The audience is transported from Israel to Egypt with life-size camels, sheep and eye-catching statues like Anubis and Horus. You will be blown away by the dazzling array of talent showcased by the cast in this exuberant musical, go go go and book a ticket today!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is at the London Palladium until 5th September, to book see online.