Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend On Sea

Bill Kenwright’s tour of Lloyd Webber and Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is the stuff of theatrical legend. While Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap may be ensconced for ever in the West End, Kenwright’s touring version of the biblical rags to riches tale has been touring the regions for the over 20 years, breaking just about every theatrical musical longevity and box office record in the process.

The recent resurgence of interest in Joseph has in part been down to the BBC TV live casting couch ‘Any Dream Will Do’ that launched the career of tousle-haired winner Lee Mead. Now, however, its time for runner up in the series, Keith Jack, to don the famous multicoloured coat as the biblical prodigal son.

Jack has appeared in the show before, having played the Narrator but now steps into the spotlight in an assured and confident performance. His is a Joseph full of cheeky charm and a knowing wink that brings a fresh approach to the often doe-eyed innocence that Joseph is often played with.

Vocally it’s a performance that carries off Lloyd Webber’s score well though, if being picky, a bit more vocal power is needed in the big solo numbers. What he may lack in power, though, he more than makes up for in stage presence and warmth.

Of course, Joseph is more than a one man show and the current touring cast is obviously having great fun with the piece. Jennifer Potts as the Narrator demonstrates an impressive vocal range while Adam Jarrell suitably rocks as the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh.

It is, however, a company full of spot on performances, with Jacob’s eleven other sons providing plenty of humour and vitality – especially in the Parisian inspired ‘Those Canaan Days’ complete with berets, accordionists and strings of onions.

There is also impressive support from the children of local choir The Carmel Thomas Youth Singers, who add some well drilled harmonies to the professional cast.

Sean Cavanagh’s set provides plenty of tongue in cheek humour, complete with inflatable sheep, palm trees and golden Egyptian deities, while James McCullagh’s musical direction has great fun with Lloyd Webber’s quirky score.

The addition of extra reprises in the finale do seem to be extraneous but, by that point, the audience are having such a good time it would be churlish to deny them the opportunity to sing and dance along.

At the end of the day, the Joseph tour is never going to be a work on immense depth and intellectual challenge but it doesn’t need to be. For two hours of pure musical fun it’s hard to knock and this record-breaking tour shows no sign of fading yet.

Review originally written for The Public Reviews

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