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Green Light in the City

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

30 September 06 words: Beverley Makin
Witness the upbeat Andrew Lloyd Webber musical treatment to the Old Testament tale
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s second ever production. Since it’s massive relaunch with Jason Donavan back in 1991 it has been touring to great success with a string of celeb male leads including the likes of Donny Osmond and Philip Schofield. It’s one of those shows were D list celebs with singing talent have done good, impressing us with their singing stuff and restarted their careers, cue former steps frontman Ian Watkins aka H. Hold onto your edam girls its going to be a family friendly cheese marathon.

Webber’s breezy upbeat tale is based on the story Joseph the Dreamer from, that controversial Old Testament favourite, the Book of Genesis. The jist of the story is a moral one and ideally suited to this family friendly style, especially so as it plays on the Christian strings of our culture.

I’ve seen previous tours of Joseph and admit to being a straight up fan, even being known to see a show twice on occasion! The staging in this version is a real departure from the norm though, as for the first time a children’s choir is incorporated as an integral and static part of the production. The necessary changes this made to the grand and colourful sets and choreography I remember disappointed me. On stage we have a large inverted V shaped staircase that seats the choir and the main performance is staged around that, as a result there was less usable space on stage. Combine this with some particlularly cheese costumes and props and the effect is very panto.

The high point for the show was of course the music, lively lyrics to wonderful tunes! Everyone was humming and toe tapping along to the likes of Go, Go, Go Joseph, One More Angel in Heaven and Close Every Door. The bulk of the cast were fantastic, the brothers were of all shapes and sizes and tremendously lively as they bounded across the stage. Hannah Grover as the Narrator was perfect, her incredible range was always clear and strong even in competition with the large cast on stage with her. Marlon Moore as the Elvis-esque Pharaoh Ramses was the treat I remembered and the handmaidens swooned but no one else really stood out - including Mr Watkins. The themed interpretation of the various songs was a bit random, a dash of country and western and Elvis is one thing but cheerleaders and American Football players?

I missed the Steps craze so luckily had no big expectations of ‘H’ (Ian Watkins) as Joseph, just as well then as his performance was pretty weak. I understand he has recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, fair play to him as a newbie then but he pales in comparison to the many leading and supporting men which have made this one of Webber’s most profitable touring shows. H’s voice was uninteresting and at times strained, to compound matters his acting was pretty clunky too, all rather panto then, but I guess this incarnation is aimed more at a younger audience so it’s not so bad.

The show is a particularly cheesey incarnation of Joseph, if you like your cheese, H, or you’re nine years old you’ll like it, otherwise stick to Cathedral City.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat plays at the Theatre Royal until Saturday October 7th 2006.

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